(Upper Respiratory Tract Infection; Lower Respiratory Tract Infection)
The bronchi are air passages of the lungs. Bronchitis is inflammation of the bronchi. It can make breathing difficult. It can also be painful.
Bronchi of Lungs
There are different types of bronchitis such as:
- Acute bronchitis—is a sudden onset of symptoms. It only lasts a short time. There is full recovery of lung function.
- Chronic bronchitis
The inflammation may be caused by:
- Bacterial and viral infections
- Smoking (cigarettes or marijuana)
Inhalation of certain respiratory irritants (usualy in work setting) such as:
- Vegetable dusts
Risk factors for bronchitis include:
Symptoms will depend on the type of bronchitis.
- Runny nose
- Slight fever
- Back and muscle pain
- Sore throat
- Cough, initially dry, then produces mucus that may be thick, yellow, green, blood-streaked
- Cough that brings up yellow-green mucus, often worse in the morning
- Difficulty breathing
- Bluish tint to lips and skin (in severe cases)
- Swelling of the feet (in end-stage cases)
Bronchi and Air Sacs of Lungs
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Tests are rare. The following may be recommended for severe or questionable cases:
Tests may include:
- Blood test
- Chest x-rays
Pulmonary function testsor spirometry—to evaluate lung function
- Sputum culture
- Arterial blood gas—to test for levels of oxygen, carbon dioxide, and acid in the blood
- Pulse oximetry
- Bronchoscopy with culture of obtained sputum
Treatment is aimed at relieving the symptoms. It includes:
acetaminophento treat pain and fever
- Expectorants or cough suppressants
- Increased fluid intake
- Cool mist humidification
Herbs and supplements— Pelargonium sidoidesextract may help resolve symptoms in patients with acute bronchitis *³
Antibiotics will not be helpful if the infection is viral.
There are some concerns about the safety of over-the-counter cough and cold products. The concern is highest for children under two years of age. It is best to avoid these, especially in young children. Talk to your doctor about medication options.
Treatment is based on:
- Overall health
- Extent of the disease
- Past response to treatments
Treatment may include:
Oral antibiotics and bronchodilators, particularly
- If you have chronic bronchitis and mild-to-moderate COPD, you may not need antibiotics
A study found that shorter antibiotic treatment (five days or less) is as effective as longer treatment (more than five days)
- Oral or intravenous corticosteroid medications
- Inhaled bronchodilators or corticosteroids
- Expectorants to loosen secretions
- Supplemental oxygen
- Cool mist humidification
Lung reduction surgery—removal of the most damaged part of the lungs (in severe cases) Lung transplant(in end-stage cases)
If you are diagnosed with bronchitis, follow your doctor's instructions .
To reduce your chance of getting bronchitis:
Canadian Family Physician
The Canadian Lung Association
Bishai WR. Macrolide immunomodulatory effects and symptom resolution in acute exacerbation of chronic bronchitis and acute maxillary sinusitis: a focus on clarithromycin. Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2006;4:405-416.
Harrison TR, Fauci AS. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 14th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill;1998.
Poole PJ, Black, PN. Mucolytic agents for chronic bronchitis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006;3.
Smith S, Fahey T, Smucny J, Becker L. Antibiotics for acute bronchitis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009;CD000245.
What is COPD. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/Copd/Copd_WhatIs.html . Accessed July 7, 2008.
* 1 6/4/2007 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance : Nonprescription cough and cold medicine use in children. Medwatch: 2007 Safety Alerts for Drugs, Biologics, Medical Devices, and Dietary Supplements. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/medwatch/safety/2007/safety07.htm#Cough . Accessed: September 4, 2007.
* 2 6/4/2008 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance : El Moussaoui R, Roede BM, Speelman P, Bresser P, Prins JM, Bossuyt PM. Abstract Short-course antibiotic treatment in acute exacerbations of chronic bronchitis and COPD: a meta-analysis of double-blind studies. Thorax. 2008;63:415-422. Epub 2008 Jan 30. Review.
* 3 10/14/2008 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance : Timmer A, Gunther J, Rucker G, Motschall E, Antes G, Kern WV. Pelargonium sidoides extract for acute respiratory tract infections. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008;(3):CD006323.
Last reviewed January 2009 by
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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