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Bronchitis Basics: Causes and Symptoms

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  • Written By: Felicia Messimer
Bronchitis Basics: Causes and Symptoms

Many might know the term bronchitis, but not everyone knows that bronchitis can be acute, which lasts for 10 days or less, or chronic, recurring on and off for several weeks. Acute bronchitis is spread through the same viruses that lead to the flu and cold. From risk factors to symptoms, here are the basics on bronchitis:

How Does Bronchitis Occur

Your bronchial tubes are what deliver airflow from your trachea into your lungs. Bronchitis occurs when these tubes become inflamed and mucus begins to build. The most common warning signs include:

  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Low fever

The first symptoms are similar to those of a cold or flu and may include:

  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Tiredness
  • Sneezing
  • Wheezing

When a dry cough becomes productive, or begins to produce mucus, acute bronchitis may be present—and the cough may last for up to three weeks and subside on its own. The diagnosis will first start with a physical exam.

Causes of Bronchitis

Bronchitis can occur due to lung conditions, infection (viral or bacterial), or environmental factors. However, a viral infection is the most common cause in adults. The virus that leads to a cold or flu can also lead to bronchitis.

Exposure to certain irritants can lead to an increase in inflammation, ultimately causing acute bronchitis. Exposure to cigarette smoke, a weakened immune system, and your age can all put you at risk for acute bronchitis.

Caused by a short-term infection carried by mucus droplets discharged through a cough or sneeze, acute bronchitis is contagious.

Chronic Bronchitis

When inflammation becomes long-term, chronic bronchitis can occur. Since the initial source is an irritant, such as cigarette smoke, it is not contagious.

When to See a Doctor

If your bronchitis symptoms are accompanied by chest pains, trouble breathing, or barking cough, it’s time to see your doctor. If you can’t get in to see your primary care physician, the Walk-in Clinic in Gillette, Wyoming, is here to help.

We can provide you with the personal and quality care you need. Save your spot in line or walk-in today! Learn more at

  • Category: Campbell County Medical Group Family Medicine, Campbell County Medical Group Complex and Internal Medicine, Campbell County Medical Group Kid Clinic, Campbell County Medical Group Pediatrics, Campbell County Medical Group Pulmonary & Sleep Medicine, Campbell County Medical Group Walk-In Clinic & Occupational Health, Campbell County Medical Group Wright Clinic & Occupational Health