Acute bronchitis is a short term lung infection. Bronchi in the lungs become inflamed and start to make more phlegm than normal. It leads to intense coughing.
Bronchi of Lungs
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Viruses are the most common cause of infection. Bacteria can also cause it, but this isn’t as common.
Your risk is higher if you:
Common symptoms may cause:
The doctor will ask you about your symptoms and health history. Your answers may point to acute bronchitis. You may need further testing only if the doctor suspects something else such as pneumonia. This is normally not done.
The infection will go away on its own. Care focuses on making you feel better until the infection passes. The cough can last for up to a month.
Care may involve:
Note: Check with your child’s doctor before giving them aspirin. It’s not a good option if they have or had a viral infection. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises not using cough suppressants in children less than 2 years old. The FDA also supports not using them in children less than 4 years old.
To lower your chances of infection:
American Lung Association
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
The Lung Association
About antibiotic use and resistance. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
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Updated September 13, 2013. Accessed May 29, 2018.
Acute bronchitis. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/condition/acute-bronchitis. Updated February 14, 2017. Accessed May 29, 2018.
Acute bronchitis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113814/Acute-bronchitis . Updated July 8, 2017. Accessed May 29, 2018.
Smith SM, Fahey T, Smucny J, Becker LA. Antibiotics for acute bronchitis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017;6:CD000245.
2/3/2015 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114449/Asthma-in-adults-and-adolescents : Rantala A, Jaakkola JJ, Jaakkola MS. Respiratory infections in adults with atopic disease and IgE antibodies to common aeroallergens. PLoS One. 2013;8(7):e68582.
Last reviewed May 2018 by David L. Horn, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 5/29/2018