Acute bronchitis

This text provides information in simple language on the topic: Acute bronchitis.

What is acute bronchitis?

Acute bronchitis is a disease of the airways.In acute bronchitis, the lining of the bronchi is inflamed.

The bronchi connect the windpipe with the lungs. The air you breathe reaches the lungs through the bronchi.

© W & B / Dr. Ulrike Möhle

Bronchitis can be acute. Then it often heals on its own. Acute bronchitis lasts about two weeks. Note: Acute bronchitis is often contagious.

But bronchitis can also be chronic (chronic bronchitis). Chronic means: the inflammation develops slowly and lasts for a long time. Chronic inflammation often comes back.

How can you recognize acute bronchitis?

The most important sign of acute bronchitis is the typical cough. Initially, the cough is usually dry. The cough is often particularly bad at night and in the morning: an affected person has chest pain when coughing. After a few days, thick mucus forms in the bronchi. The cough changes: it is no longer dry. The cough is slimy then.

Acute bronchitis often occurs with a cold. In addition to coughing, there are often typical symptoms of a cold such as:

  • a headache
  • Body aches
  • Sore throat
  • Pain when swallowing
  • sniff
  • fever

What are the causes of acute bronchitis?

In most cases, viruses are the cause of acute bronchitis. Different types of viruses can cause acute bronchitis, such as influenza viruses. But sometimes bacteria are also the cause of acute bronchitis. In rare cases, fungi cause bronchitis.

Acute bronchitis is often contagious. The viruses can easily spread to other people through saliva. Do you have acute bronchitis? Then you should avoid these things:

  • Do not cough at other people.
  • Do not sneeze on other people.
  • Do not kiss other people.
  • Use your own cups and cutlery.
  • Wash your hands with soap regularly.

What can you do about acute bronchitis?

Acute bronchitis is often not dangerous for healthy people. Affected people only have to take medication in rare cases. The inflammation usually heals on its own. But you can help the healing process. During the illness you should:

  • take things easy,
  • do not do sports,
  • do not smoke
  • and stay in bed if you have a fever.

Do you have severe complaints? Then go to the doctor. The doctor will examine you and give you all the important information.

Special cough suppressants are available from the pharmacy. Let the pharmacist advise you.

Note: The cough is important in curing bronchitis. Therefore, do not take the cough remedies for a long time. You can also use phlegm remedies. These agents loosen the mucus in the bronchi. This will make it easier for you to cough up the phlegm. Ask at the pharmacy for a suitable cough suppressant or ask your doctor.

You can also take simple home remedies for the discomfort:

  • Inhale several times a day with salt water. This loosens the phlegm and makes coughing more comfortable.
  • Drink plenty of water or tea. That too loosens the phlegm. Warning: do you have heart disease? Or do you have kidney disease? Then you may not be allowed to drink so much. Therefore, discuss the amount you drink with your doctor.

When is acute bronchitis dangerous?

In most cases bronchitis will heal on its own. But sometimes bronchitis can also be dangerous:

  • Your complaints are not getting better even after several days?
  • Do you have a high fever?
  • Do you sweat heavily at night?
  • Are you having trouble breathing?
  • Do you wheeze or whistle when you breathe?
  • Do you have severe coughing fits?

Then go to the doctor.

Warning: For some people, acute bronchitis is always dangerous. These people include, for example:

  • People with an additional chronic respiratory disease
  • old people
  • pregnant women
  • People with immunodeficiency

These people should always see a doctor for acute bronchitis.

Where can you get more information?

You think: maybe I have acute bronchitis? And do you have very severe complaints? Then go to the doctor. The doctor will examine you and give you all the important information.

Would you like to read more about acute bronchitis? You can find more information about acute bronchitis here. Attention: This link leads out of our simple language offer. The information is then no longer in plain language.

Attention: This text only contains general information. The text does not replace a visit to the doctor. Only a doctor can give you accurate information. Are you feeling sick? Or do you have questions about an illness? Then you should always see a doctor.

We wrote the texts together with the Light Language Research Center. The light language research center is at the University of Hildesheim.