Bronchitis - Symptoms

Acute bronchitis usually begins with cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, sneezing, and dry cough. However, the cough soon becomes deep and painful. Coughing produces a greenish-yellow phlegm or sputum (pronounced SPYOO-tum). Phlegm and sputum are substances coughed up from the inflamed airways. They include blood, mucus, dead cells, and other materials. A fever with temperatures of up to 102°F (39°C) are common. The coughing may also be accompanied by wheezing.

In simple cases of acute bronchitis, most symptoms disappear in three to five days. The cough remains and may continue for several weeks. Acute bronchitis is often accompanied by a bacterial infection that causes its own symptoms, including fever and a general feeling of illness. The bacterial infection can be treated with antibiotics. Drugs are usually not effective against the original viral infection, however.

The first sign of chronic bronchitis is often a mild cough, sometimes called smokers' cough. This coughing may bring up small or greater amounts of phlegm. Wheezing and shortness of breath may accompany the cough. As the disease develops, breathing becomes more difficult. The patient finds it necessary to become less active. The body no longer gets enough oxygen, leading to changes in the composition of the blood.

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