Bronchitis is a condition characterized by an irritation and inflammation of the lining of the tubes medically known as bronchi, which carry the air we breathe into the lungs. Bronchitis can be either acute or chronic. It can affect anyone at any time in their life.
In most cases, acute bronchitis results from a viral infection such as a common cold or flu, even though bacterial infections can lead to acute bronchitis as well. It tends to resolve on its own within 10 days, even though the cough can persist for weeks after the other signs and symptoms have subsided. On the other hand, chronic bronchitis lasts for months and of course, its signs and symptoms are more severe affecting the quality of life as well.
Acute bronchitis is contagious during the first few days as it is spread through the air when coughing, sneezing, or by direct contact.
Symptom #1: Cough
Cough is a reflex that helps us clear the airways of microbes, irritants, fluids, and mucus. With cough, the air is rapidly expulsed from the lungs together with any foreign particles that can be found in the airway. In cases of acute bronchitis, the bronchial tubes are inflamed and this inflammation leads to excessive secretion of mucus. The mucus within the bronchial tubes normally will lead to irritation and sometimes even to a blocking of the small airways. The human body will respond to this inflammation of the bronchial tubes with cough trying to eliminate the foreign particles from the airways and opening them at the same time.
In cases of acute bronchitis, cough is dry but as the condition progresses it becomes looser and productive. This cough tends to persist for weeks, even after other signs and symptoms resolve.