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Bronchitis: Introduction

Bronchitis is a general term for two diseases that cause swelling and irritation (inflammation) of the lower airways of the lungs called the bronchi and the bronchioles. Types of bronchitis include chronic bronchitis and acute bronchitis.

Chronic bronchitis is a progressive, recurring inflammation of the lungs, most often due to the damage that long-term smoking causes to the lungs. Chronic bronchitis is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and is most common in long-term smokers.

Acute bronchitis develops more suddenly and is most often caused by a viral infection or a bacterial infection that settles in the lungs acute bronchitis is a relatively short-term illness. Acute bronchitis is a common disease that can occur at any time of the year, but most cases happen in the winter months. It is most common in infants and young children and the elderly.

Typical symptoms of both types of bronchitis include an abnormally large amount of mucus production, which can block airways. This results in a wet cough and can lead to shortness of breath, especially in chronic bronchitis. In chronic bronchitis, shortness of breath gets progressively worse over time. In contrast, symptoms of acute bronchitis improve over time. Complications of both acute bronchitis and chronic bronchitis include pneumonia, which can be serious, even fatal in some cases. For more symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of bronchitis.

People at risk for developing either type of bronchitis include smokers and people who are exposed to air pollution or lung irritants. People at risk for acute bronchitis include those who have diseases of the lungs, such as lung cancer, congestive heart failure, or COPD.

Making a diagnosis of bronchitis begins with taking a thorough medical history, including symptoms and smoking history. A physical examination is also performed and includes listening with a stethoscope to the sounds that lungs make during respiration. Lung sounds that may point to a diagnosis of bronchitis include wheezing and decreased lung sounds.

In some cases, diagnostic testing can include lung function tests, such as a spirometry, which measures how much air is moved in and out of the lungs. A chest X-ray and CT scan of the chest can evaluate such factors as the presence of other conditions that may occur with or worsen bronchitis, such as pneumonia and congestive heart failure. An arterial blood gas tests a sample of blood taken from an artery for many parameters of effective respiration, including the oxygen level in the blood.

It is possible that a diagnosis of bronchitis can be missed or delayed because some symptoms are similar to symptoms of other diseases and conditions. For more information conditions and diseases that can mimic bronchitis, refer to misdiagnosis of bronchitis.

Acute bronchitis is treated with medications and supportive care. There is no cure for chronic bronchitis, but with regular medical care and consistent patient compliance with treatments and lifestyle changes, the symptoms of chronic bronchitis can be minimized and progression of the disease can be slowed. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of bronchitis....more »

Bronchitis: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of bronchitis may be delayed or missed because some symptoms, such as cough, shortness of breath, fever, fatigue, and wheezing are similar to symptoms of other diseases, such as upper respiratory infection, influenza, lung cancer, or pneumonia.

A diagnosis of chronic bronchitis may be delayed or missed because the ...more misdiagnosis »

Home Diagnostic Testing and Bronchitis

Home medical tests possibly related to Bronchitis:

Causes of Types of Bronchitis:

Review the causes of these more specific types of Bronchitis:

Review causes of more specific types of Bronchitis:

Bronchitis: Symptom Checker

Listed below are some combinations of symptoms associated with Bronchitis, as listed in our database. Visit the Symptom Checker, to add and remove symptoms and research your condition.

Symptom Checker

Symptom Checker

Bronchitis Treatments

The goal of treatment for bronchitis is to control symptoms, ease breathing, and minimize the development of complications, such as pneumonia.

One key treatment and prevention for both chronic bronchitis and acute bronchitis is to quit smoking. It is also important to eliminate or minimize exposure to potential lung irritants that can lead to or worsen bronchitis.

Chronic ...Bronchitis Treatments

Some of the possible treatments listed in sources for treatment of Bronchitis may include:

Review further information on Bronchitis Treatments.

Alternative Treatments for Bronchitis

Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed as possibly helpful for Bronchitis may include:

Stories from Users for Bronchitis

Real-life user stories relating to Bronchitis:

Message Boards for Bronchitis

Symptom specific forums: The following patient stories in our interactive forums and message boards relate to Bronchitis or relevant symptoms:

Diagnostic tests for Bronchitis:

Various tests are used in the diagnosis of Bronchitis. Some of these are listed below :

  • Physical examination
    • Temperature
    • Inspect for blueness of tongue and skin
    • Lung examination to listen to breath sound quality , intensity and for added sounds. Crackles may be heard in bronchitis (but also in congestive heart failure pneumonia, lung fibrosis or bronchiectasis). Wheezes may be heard in chronic bronchitis ( but also in asthma or emphysema)
    • Examine for signs of right ventricular heart failure which my be a complication of severe chronic bronchitis e.g. distended neck veins, tender enlarged liver and spleen, swollen ankles
  • Blood tests
    • Full blood count to detect increased red cell count and signs of infection
  • more tests...»

Bronchitis: Animations

Medications or substances causing Bronchitis:

The following drugs, medications, substances or toxins are some of the possible causes of Bronchitis as a symptom. Always advise your doctor of any medications or treatments you are using, including prescription, over-the-counter, supplements, herbal or alternative treatments.

Bronchitis: Comorbid Symptoms

Some of the comorbid or associated medical symptoms for Bronchitis may include these symptoms:

Causes of General Symptom Types

Research the causes of these more general types of symptom:

Causes of Similar Symptoms to Bronchitis

Research the causes of these symptoms that are similar to, or related to, the symptom Bronchitis:

Assessment Questionnaire: Questions your doctor may ask (and why!)

During a consultation, your doctor will use various techniques to assess the symptom: Bronchitis. These will include a physical examination and possibly diagnostic tests. (Note: A physical exam is always done, diagnostic tests may or may not be performed depending on the suspected condition) Your doctor will ask several questions when assessing your condition. It is important to openly share any pertinent information to help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis.

It is also very important to bring an up-to-date list of all of your all medical conditions, medications including dosages, and names of numbers of any specialist you see.

Create your printable checklist here.

See Bronchitis Assessment Questionnaire (9 listings)

Bronchitis: Deaths

Read more about causes and Bronchitis deaths.

Misdiagnosis and Bronchitis

Sinusitis is overdiagnosed: There is a tendency to give a diagnosis of sinusitis, when the condition is really a harmless complication of another infection, such as a common more »

Whooping cough often undiagnosed: Although most children in the Western world have been immunized against whooping cough (also called " more »

Chronic lung diseases hard to diagnose: Some of the chronic lung diseases are difficult to diagnose. Even the well-knowns conditions such as asthma or lung cancer often fail to be diagnosed early. Some of the chronic lung diseases more »

Bronchitis: Research Related Doctors & Specialists

Other ways to find a doctor, or use doctor, physician and specialist online research services:

Hospitals & Clinics: Bronchitis

Research extensive quality ratings and patient safety measures for hospitals, clinics and medical facilities in health specialties related to Bronchitis:

Bronchitis: Related Rare Diseases

Rare types of medical conditions and diseases in related medical categories:

Bronchitis: Undiagnosed Conditions

Conditions that are commonly undiagnosed in related areas may include:

Causes of Bronchitis listed in Disease Database:

Other medical conditions listed in the Disease Database as possible causes of Bronchitis as a symptom include:

Definitions of Bronchitis:

Inflammation of the membranes lining the bronchial tubes
- (Source - WordNet 2.1)

Inflammation (swelling and reddening) of the bronchi.
- (Source - National Cancer Institute)

Organs affected by Bronchitis:

The list of organs typically affected by Bronchitis may include, but is not limited to:

Detailed list of causes of Bronchitis

The list below shows some of the causes of Bronchitis mentioned in various sources:

How Common are these Causes of Bronchitis?

This information refers to the general prevalence and incidence of these diseases, not to how likely they are to be the actual cause of Bronchitis. Of the 273 causes of Bronchitis that we have listed, we have the following prevalence/incidence information:

  • 5 causes are "very common" diseases
  • 5 causes are "common" diseases
  • 0 causes are "uncommon" diseases
  • 1 causes are "rare" diseases
  • 7 causes are "very rare" diseases
  • 261 causes have no prevalence information.

Conditions listing medical symptoms: Bronchitis:

The following list of conditions have 'Bronchitis' or similar listed as a symptom in our database. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.

Select from the following alphabetical view of conditions which include a symptom of Bronchitis or choose View All.

View All A B C D E F G H I K L M N O P R S T U W Y





















Conditions listing medical complications: Bronchitis:

The following list of medical conditions have Bronchitis or similar listed as a medical complication in our database. The distinction between a symptom and complication is not always clear, and conditions mentioning this symptom as a complication may also be relevant. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.















Join in at the forums

Ask or answer a question about symptoms or diseases at one of our free interactive user forums.

Medical story forums: If you have a medical story then we want to hear it.

See a list of all the medical forums

Causes of Bronchitis Based on Risk Factors

This information shows analysis of the list of causes of Bronchitis based on whether certain risk factors apply to the patient:

  • Diabetes - history of diabetes or family history of diabetes?

    Doctors and specialists: Who should I consult about Bronchitis?

    Depending on the seriousness of the onset of Bronchitis, you may want to consult one of the following medical professionals.

    Important:In extreme cases, always seek advice from emergency services :

    Classifications of Bronchitis:

    Subtypes of Bronchitis:

    Chronic bronchitis (19 causes), Bronchiolitis (15 causes), Laryngotracheobronchitis (4 causes), Bronchial obstruction (25 causes), Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (4 causes), Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (18 causes), Bronchial breath sounds (7 causes), Bronchospasm (221 causes), Cough with sputum similar to chronic bronchitis (6 causes), Hemopytsis as in case of bronchitis (10 causes), Life threatening bronchospasm in pregnancy (3 causes), Life-threatening bronchospasm (16 causes), Tracheobronchial airway obstruction (10 causes), Tracheobronchial airway obstruction in children (5 causes), Tracheobronchial airway obstruction in newborns (5 causes), Intermittent chronic bronchitis-like symptoms (7 causes), Chronic bronchitis-like symptoms (16 causes), Acute chronic bronchitis-like symptoms (16 causes), Bronchitis-like symptoms (8 causes), Mild chronic bronchitis-like symptoms (6 causes), Recurring chronic bronchitis-like cough (8 causes), Severe chronic bronchitis-like cough (16 causes), Acute chronic bronchitis-like cough (16 causes), Intermittent chronic bronchitis-like cough (8 causes), Chronic bronchitis-like cough (16 causes), Recurring chronic bronchitis-like symptoms (10 causes), Mild chronic bronchitis-like cough (6 causes), Severe chronic bronchitis-like symptoms (16 causes)

    Medical Conditions associated with Bronchitis:

    Respiratory symptoms (5166 causes), Lung symptoms (3280 causes), Respiratory tract symptoms (5166 causes), Inflammatory symptoms (1736 causes), Infection-related symptoms (1293 causes), Throat symptoms (3410 causes), Mouth symptoms (6864 causes), Breathing symptoms (3381 causes), Breath symptoms (3023 causes), Head symptoms (10192 causes), Face symptoms (8109 causes)

    Symptoms related to Bronchitis:

    Cough (1407 causes), Dry cough (201 causes), Wet cough (286 causes), Barking cough (10 causes), Common cold (712 causes), Chronic bronchitis (19 causes), Bronchiolitis (15 causes), Laryngotracheobronchitis (4 causes), Bronchial obstruction (25 causes), Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (4 causes), Bronchopulmonary dysplasia Adenovirus

    Medical articles on signs and symptoms:

    Doctor-patient articles related to symptoms and diagnosis:

    These general medical articles may be of interest:

    Medical News summaries about Bronchitis

    Our news pages contain the following medical news summaries about Bronchitis and many other medical conditions:

    Related medical articles from our Disease Center for Bronchitis:

    More Ways To Research Medical Signs and Symptoms:


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