(Bronchitis, Acute; Lower Respiratory Tract Infection, Chest Cold)
DefinitionAcute bronchitis is a short-term respiratory infection that may be referred to as a chest cold. The bronchi branch off the trachea, taking air from the outside into the lungs. In bronchitis, the bronchi become inflamed and produce more mucus.
|Bronchi of Lungs|
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CausesIn most cases, acute bronchitis is caused by a viral infection. There are times when it may be caused by a bacterial infection.
Risk FactorsFactors that may increase your risk of getting acute bronchitis include:
- Having a cold or the flu
- Contact with a person with a respiratory viral or bacterial infection
- Exposure to second-hand smoke
- Allergies or asthma
- Exposures to respiratory inhalants at work, such as:
- Vegetable dusts
- Poorly functioning immune system
SymptomsAcute bronchitis may cause:
- Cough, with or without sputum
- Increased sputum production
- Trouble breathing
DiagnosisYour doctor will ask you about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.Tests are rarely needed. The following may be recommended if the bronchitis is severe or the diagnosis is not clear:
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