What is Acute Bronchitis?

Acute bronchitis or Chest Cold occurs when the airways of the lungs swell and produce mucus in the lungs. That's what makes you cough and causes discomfort. The symptoms include coughing, soreness in the chest, fatigue, headache, body ache, and sore throat. Infection caused due to acute bronchitis typically lasts for less than a couple of weeks and can get cured even without any medication. Another treatment option is to seek a doctor’s advice only if the acute bronchitis is caused by a bacterium and use prescribed medication to suppress the cough and loosen the mucus. Learn about the treatment and cure for acute bronchitis in the article below.



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Acute bronchitis or Chest Cold occurs when the bronchial air tubes (bronchi) that serve as a conduit between the windpipe (trachea) and lungs get inflamed or swollen producing mucus in the lungs. It is the most common type of bronchitis and is different from chronic bronchitis- a much severe form of bronchitis.

Infection caused due to acute bronchitis typically lasts for less than a couple of weeks, although the cough may persist for several weeks. Categories of people at risk of acute bronchitis include young and elderly persons with any major pre-existing medical conditions.

Symptoms Of Acute Bronchitis

Acute Bronchitis symptoms often begin with a common cold accompanied by sneezing and a runny nose for many days before a cough develops. A dry cough could gradually turn into a cough with mucus discharge for three weeks. The mucus colour transitions from white to green to yellow indicating that the immune system is battling out the infection.

Acute bronchitis symptoms last for up to three weeks and can include the following:


  • Frequent coughing with or without mucus
  • Possibility of a wheezing sound while breathing
  • Heavy feeling in the chest
  • Fatigue
  • Fever and Sore throat
  • Mild headache and body aches

Apart from the acute bronchitis symptoms listed above, some emergency symptoms would require immediate medical assistance:


  • Inexplicable weight loss
  • A deep, barking cough
  • Chest pain
  • Trouble in breathing
  • A fever of 100.4°F or higher
  • Cough that sustains for more than 10 days

Causes of Acute Bronchitis

1. Primary:

In most cases, acute bronchitis is primarily caused by the common cold or flu virus, but a certain type of bacteria also possesses the potential to trigger acute bronchitis.

2. Secondary:

Inhaling artificial substances such as chemical fumes, tobacco, or exposure to dust, smog, and toxic air pollution.

3. Tertiary:

The risk of acute bronchitis prevails with any underlying allergies or other conditions such as asthma.


The risk of acute bronchitis becomes manifold if there is a recorded family history of bronchitis, asthma, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Incidence and Severity of Infection by Gender and Age Group

Although acute bronchitis affects irrespective of gender type and age group, research studies have found that it is frequently seen to be affecting children younger than 5 years and older adults owing to their weaker immune systems. Also, its incidence and severity are found to be greater in males as compared to females.

Ways of Transmission

Acute bronchitis is contagious given it’s a viral or bacterial infection and could be transmitted in the same way as common cold spreads.


  • Transmission through air droplets of an infected person when nearby
  • Touching the surfaces contaminated by an infected person’s air droplets, and then touching your nose, mouth or eyes

Diagnosis of Acute Bronchitis

In most cases, people affected by acute bronchitis may not even pay attention to its symptoms by assuming it to be a common flu. So, a step-by-step diagnosis may help confirm the occurrence of acute bronchitis:


  • Most people with mild symptoms of acute bronchitis get cured within two weeks. However, if the symptoms do not improve even after two weeks, a doctor’s consultation is essential.
  • When you consult a doctor due to profuse coughing, the doctor shall ensure that it is caused by acute bronchitis or by anything else.
  • The doctor shall check for symptoms such as wheezing, breathing pattern, and inquire about cough and the frequency of mucus generation.
  • For further clarity, the doctor may suggest getting a chest X-ray and a blood test done to rule out pneumonia.
  • A nasal swab test may also be ordered to test the mucus sample and rule out any possibility of whooping cough.

In cases with a recorded family history of asthma or allergies, the doctor may suggest a lung function test.

Acute Bronchitis Treatment

  • Most cases of acute bronchitis caused by a virus get cured within a couple of weeks even without any medication.
  • The doctor may prescribe antibiotics only if the acute bronchitis is caused by a bacterium
  • The doctor may prescribe medication to suppress cough and loosen the mucus
  • An inhaler might ease the wheezing problem by opening up the air tubes and making it easier to breathe
  • In the case of kids affected by acute bronchitis, it is not advisable to give over-the-counter medications or cough medicines to children under the age of 6 without a doctor’s approval.

Acute Bronchitis Home Remedies

Acute bronchitis treatment at home is easier to follow and has been proven to be quite effective for regular symptoms. Here are few tips to follow as part of the acute bronchitis treatment at home:

1. Stay hydrated:

Hydrate yourself regularly by drinking a lot of water. Regular water intake helps replace fluids lost in your body due to rapid breathing and loosens up the mucus making it easier to cough.

2. Ample Rest:

Getting plenty of sleep for at least 7-8 hours a day is key to curing any illness and acute bronchitis is no exception to the norm. Loss of adequate sleep can adversely affect your immune system, increasing the chances of a respiratory infection.

3. Increase your fruit intake:

Fruits rich in Vitamins C and D can enhance your immunity and ease any symptoms of nausea or constipation

4. Use a humidifier:

During the cold, dry months of the year, a humidifier maintains the air moisture that helps ease congestion. Using essentials with the humidifier can loosen up the mucus and subdue coughing.

5. Sip hot ginger tea with honey:

A hot cup of ginger tea infused with honey keeps your body hydrated and can act as an effective cough reliever. Just a spoon of honey is also a great remedy for sound sleep, especially for children aged above 1 year

Prevention of Acute Bronchitis

1. Environment Control:

Avoid smoking and stay away from dust, cigarette smoke or any chemical fumes that could irritate your nasal tract.

2. Physical Barriers:

Wearing a mask, gloves, and eye glasses can help minimise transmission from infected persons around you

3. Vaccination:

Get a shot of flu vaccine since acute bronchitis could be caused by a flu virus too

4. Personal Hygiene:

Wash your hands regularly to avoid catching an infection from any contaminated surface you would have touched. Also, cover your mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing


Given the skyrocketing pollution, changing lifestyles, and occupational hazards, cases of bronchitis have been on the rise, irrespective of age group and gender. A global study has concluded that every 44 out of 1000 adults get affected annually by acute bronchitis Given the modest incidence of the disease, one cannot write away the possibility of such cases resulting in severe bronchitis. Availing quality healthcare access in such circumstances could be a costly affair and a good health insurance policy such as those available on Bajaj Markets can help you manage such medical exigencies.

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