Bronchitis is a very common respiratory illness. In fact, around 3 million cases of bronchitis occur in the U.S. ever year! Even though it’s common, that doesn’t make it any less of a concern if you do happen to get it.
Our AFC Urgent Care Chattanooga team explores the severity and other important facts about bronchitis below, so read on!
What Is Bronchitis?
Bronchitis is an inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, which carry air to and from the lungs. People who have bronchitis often cough up thickened mucus, which can be discolored. Additionally, there are two types of bronchitis: acute and chronic.
Acute bronchitis, which is a short-term inflammation of the surface lining of the bronchial airways, is most commonly caused by an infection that causes acute bronchitis to be contagious. Chronic bronchitis, on the other hand, is a long-term inflammation of the surface lining of the bronchial airways, and is often caused by smoking cigarettes and other noxious irritants.
Common Bronchitis Symptoms
- Production of mucus (sputum), which can be clear, white, yellowish-gray or green in color—rarely, it may be streaked with blood
- Shortness of breath
- Slight fever and chills
- Chest discomfort
How Serious Are Both Forms of Bronchitis?
Chronic bronchitis is more serious than acute bronchitis. Most people get over a bout of acute bronchitis in two to three weeks, although the cough can sometimes hang on for four weeks or more. If you’re in otherwise good health, your lungs will return to normal after you’ve recovered from the initial infection.
Unlike acute bronchitis, chronic bronchitis is a more serious condition that develops over time. Symptoms may get better or worse, but they will never completely go away. These extended periods of inflammation cause sticky mucus to build up in the airways, leading to long-term breathing difficulties.
When to See a Doctor
- Fever over 100.4°F
- A cough that lasts more than three weeks
- Continued wheezing or shortness of breath that stops you from activities
- Expelling discolored or bloody mucus from the mouth or nose
Whether it’s bronchitis or another type of respiratory illness, our AFC Urgent Care Chattanooga team can provide the treatment you need to feel better! Don’t hesitate to stop by today.