Acute bronchitis is a short-term inflammation of the respiratory paths, which is mostly due to viral infection. In healthy persons, acute bronchitis may develop as complication of an infection of the respiratory organs. In people with chronic obstructive lung disease is a frequent problem and can appear several times during the winter season.
In acute bronchitis, the bronchial tubes, the main respiratory pathways in the lungs, are inflamed, mostly after an infection. During the inflammation, large quantity of mucus is produced, which is usually coughed in form of phlegm.
In healthy persons, acute bronchitis does not usually cause permanent damage; however, in older persons, and those with heart or lung disease, the infection may spread and cause inflammation of the lungs.
It is more frequent in adults.
The symptoms of acute bronchitis usually develop in 24-48 hours. These include:
- Persistent, nagging cough that produces clear secretion; this cough may last for several weeks
- pain in the chest during coughing
- whizzing of the lungs
- slightly elevated temperature
- chest discomfort
The cause of acute bronchitis is a viral infection. It is similar virus as the ones that cause cold or flu. The infection can spread from the nose, throat or the sinuses to the bronchial tubes.
Other causes are:
- air pollution
- toxic gases
The risk factors for acute bronchitis are:
- air pollution or other irritants
- existing lung disease
- viral infection
- chronic condition that may weaken the immune system
The complications of acute bronchitis can arise in people with chronic disease, or heart and lung diseases. The complications are pneumonia or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
The prevention of acute bronchitis can be directed towards reduction of the risk factors. The prevention should include:
- personal hygiene
- no smoking
- immunization – vaccines against viruses, like flu vaccine
- wearing a mask