What are the Different Bronchitis Symptoms?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 13 November 2018
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Bronchitis refers to a condition where the airways or more specifically the bronchi get inflamed due to different types of irritation. These irritants could be allergens or pollutants, or swelling can occur as a response to common viruses, like cold viruses. Secondary infections when people have colds may result in bronchitis too. Chronic swelling can create chronic bronchitis, but may people have what is called an acute form, where symptoms are bad for a few weeks, and then resolve on their own or with treatment.

The way bronchitis symptoms express themselves can help people make a distinction between acute and chronic bronchitis. Additionally, the circumstances under which bronchitis occurs also help people to understand if their condition is long-lasting or relatively temporary. For instance, people developing bronchitis symptoms concurrently with development of a virus are likely to have an acute form, unless the symptoms aren't reduced after appropriate diagnosis and treatment.


One of the most common bronchitis symptoms is a cough, which can be painful and dramatic, and which often produces a certain amount of mucus, which may have diverse colors. Sputum might be green, yellow, white or clear, and any foods being consumed can color it. Having a cup of coffee and then coughing up brown sputum wouldn’t be unusual. In children, this symptom is a little hard to catch because while adults tend to spit out mucus, children may cough it into their mouths and swallow it. Parents may have to listen for the heavy sputum sound that accompanies this type of cough.

Since the airways are affected, bronchitis symptoms also include a feeling of shortness of breath, which may be stronger if people need to do anything active. Another of the common bronchitis symptoms is pain or pressure in the lungs or chest, and this may be made worse with activity. Other symptoms that accompany breathing challenges are asthma-like wheezing and tiredness or fatigue, which is not surprising given the body’s extra efforts to breathe. Some people also have a fever, though this is usually mild and isn’t always present.

More serious symptoms like greater difficult breathing, pale or blue skin, extreme exhaustion, mucus with blood in it and fever over 101 degrees F (38.33 degrees C) may suggest that bronchitis symptoms are actually pneumonia symptoms. These need to be addressed with by a doctor immediately.

Most people should also see a doctor when they have bronchitis symptoms, but treatment can be varied. Some people are given antibiotics, others receive no medicine, and yet others might be treated for allergic reactions, developing asthma. or other conditions. Of great concern are chronic forms of bronchitis that can develop from things like smoking, chemical exposure, or other causes. If bronchitis doesn’t clear in a month or two, since it can hang around for a while, people should see physicians to determine if bronchitis is chronic. Length of bronchitis illness tends to be the distinguishing factor between acute and chronic forms.



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