Bronchitis is inflammation and irritation of the airways (bronchial
tubes) of the lungs. Symptoms include a persistent cough that often produces
mucus (sputum), fever, mild wheezing, and chest pain.
Bronchitis is usually caused by infection from a virus (less
commonly with bacteria or a fungus). It can also develop after exposure to
chemicals or air pollution, including tobacco smoke.
There are two types of bronchitis.
- Acute bronchitis
develops suddenly. It generally lasts less than 2 to 3 weeks. Most healthy
people who develop bronchitis get better without any
- Chronic bronchitis recurs and
becomes long-term (chronic), especially in people who smoke. A cough that
produces too much sputum and is present most days during a 3-month period for
at least 2 years in a row suggests chronic bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis is a
form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).