Symptoms of Bronchitis: Acute and Chronic

November 12, 2012

Symptoms of Bronchitis: Acute and Chronic

Bronchitis is a severe inflammation of the tubes connecting the mouth and nose to the lungs. There are two main types of bronchitis – acute and chronic. Acute means that bronchitis attacks come and go while chronic means that someone suffers symptoms of bronchitis nearly all of the time or throughout most of the year.

The symptoms of bronchitis are nearly identical to symptoms of asthma, emphysema, tuberculosis, severe allergic reactions to allergens like pollen or house dust and some forms of cancer. Never try to self-diagnose your symptoms. Always get diagnosed from a medical professional so that if you can receive targeted treatment as quickly as possible for your particular condition.

Acute Bronchitis

There are many symptoms of bronchitis that only lasts a short while (acute bronchitis.) The most common are:

  • Fever with or without chills

  • Constant, hacking cough that, one or two days after it begins, brings up yellow, pearly white or greenish material

  • Same material can come out of the nose

  • Extreme difficulty trying to take a deep or normal breath

  • Pain in the area below the breastbone when trying to take a deep breath

  • Sensation of tightness or squeezing in the chest

  • Inability to do mild exercise or physical tasks without developing shortness of breath

  • Constantly feeling tired or exhausted.

Symptoms of bronchitis can appear shortly after a person has suffered from an upper respiratory infection. People most likely to get acute bronchitis are smokers; people diagnosed with a lung disease; people diagnosed with a heart disease; young children and senior citizens. If left untreated, acute bronchitis can deteriorate into pneumonia.

Chronic Bronchitis

People suffering from chronic bronchitis suffer the same symptoms of bronchitis as those with acute bronchitis, but for much longer time periods and often with some additional symptoms, including:

  • Making a wheezing or whistling noise when breathing

  • Coughing up colored mucus or phlegm for at three months of out the year for two years in a row.

Some unusual symptoms of chronic bronchitis include:

  • Cough that does not produce mucus that can last for weeks

  • Noticeable swelling of the feet and legs, particularly the ankles

  • Lip skin tinged blue due to lack of oxygen

  • Constantly coming down with colds, flu or other respiratory infections.

Chronic bronchitis can worsen into other health complications if left untreated, such as pneumonia, emphysema, dangerously high blood pressure or failure of the right side of the heart.

When to Call the Doctor

Even if you have been diagnosed with acute or chronic bronchitis, there are symptoms and signs that the condition has worsened to a dangerous point. You should call your doctor or an ambulance if no doctor is available and experience these dangerous symptoms of bronchitis:

  • Coughing up red or nearly brown blood

  • Inability to breathe

  • Mucus and phlegm being coughed up contains blood

  • Mucus and phlegm turn a progressively darker color

  • Mucus and phlegm become much thicker, making it very hard to cough up

  • Pain is so bad that you cannot sleep

  • Fever under 101 degrees F lasts for more than 72 hours in a row

  • Fever shoots up over 101 degrees F.

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