Acute and chronic bronchitis

  • Characteristics of tuberculosis source cases uncovered

    Characteristics of tuberculosis source cases uncovered

    Bronchitis is a respiratory disease in which the mucous membranes of the bronchial passages in the lungs become inflamed. As the irritated membrane swells and grows thicker, it narrows or shuts off the airways in the lungs, resulting in coughing spells accompanied by thick phlegm and breathlessness. The disease occurs in two forms: acute and chronic.

  • Acute bronchitis causes a hacking cough and phlegm/mucus production and is sometimes accompanied by a viral or bacterial upper respiratory infection. In otherwise healthy patients, the mucous membrane returns to normal after the initial lung infection, which usually lasts for several days.

  • Chronic bronchitis is defined clinically as a daily cough with sputum production for at least a three-month period, two years in a row. Chronic bronchitis is characterized by inflammation and swelling of the lining of the airways leading to narrowing and airway obstruction. This light micrograph shows lung tissue affected by chronic bronchitis. Large sputum-secreting glands are seen at left.

  • Bronchitis symptoms include frequent, mucus producing cough, lack of energy, wheezing when breathing and fever.

  • Acute bronchitis diagnosis is based on medical history and physical examination. For chronic bronchitis, chest X-rays may be performed to check the extent of the lung damage, as well as with pulmonary function tests to measure lung function.

  • Conventional treatment for acute bronchitis consists of rest, drinking lots of fluids, avoiding smoke and fumes, expectorants and inhaled bronchodilator medication.

  • Treatments for severe cases of chronic bronchitis, include inhaled or oral steroids to reduce inflammation and/or supplemental oxygen. Clinicians may prescribe broad-spectrum antibiotics for patients with symptoms of an infection, including changes in the color, volume or thickness of phlegm.

Next Prev
1 / 1
Share this content:

Acute bronchitis is very common among both children and adults and is generally caused by lung infections. Approximately 90% of these infections are viral in origin, and 10% are bacterial. Repeated attacks of acute bronchitis, which weaken and irritate bronchial airways over time, can result in chronic bronchitis. Learn more with this slideshow.

You must be a registered member of Clinical Advisor to post a comment.

Sign Up for Free e-newsletters