How Are Acute and Chronic Bronchitis Different?

Did you know? There are actually two types of bronchitis—not one.

Acute and chronic bronchitis are two forms of the infection that causes inflammatory bronchial tubes, but how are they different?

Our AFC Urgent Care Sevierville team provides some helpful answers below, so read on!

What Is Acute Bronchitis?

Both acute and chronic bronchitis occur when the bronchioles (air-carrying tubes in the lungs) are inflamed and make too much mucus. Acute bronchitis, or short-term bronchitis, is more common and usually is caused by a viral infection. Episodes of acute bronchitis can be related to and made worse by smoking.

Acute bronchitis could last for 10 to 14 days, possibly causing symptoms for three weeks. We’ve listed some common acute bronchitis symptoms below.

Common Acute Bronchitis Symptoms

  • Back and muscle pain
  • Cough, both dry and productive (where mucus is produced)
  • Chest soreness
  • Chills
  • Feeling tired and achy
  • Headache
  • Runny nose
  • Slight fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore throat
  • Watery eyes
  • Wheezing

What Is Chronic Bronchitis?

Chronic bronchitis is a long-term inflammation of the bronchial tubes. In fact, it typically produces a mucus-filled cough that persists for three months out of the year for at least two consecutive years.

The cough and inflammation may be caused by initial respiratory infection or illness, exposure to tobacco smoke or other irritating substances in the air. Chronic bronchitis can cause airflow obstruction, which would then cause it to be is grouped under the term chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Since chronic bronchitis is typically caused by smoking, the only treatment is eliminating its causes.

Potential Health Complications Caused By Chronic Bronchitis

  • Disability
  • Frequent and severe infections that affect the airways
  • Narrowing and plugging of the breathing tubes (bronchi)
  • Trouble breathing
  • Bluish fingernails, lips, and skin because of lower oxygen levels
  • Wheezing and crackling sounds with breathing
  • Swollen feet
  • Heart failure

Want to learn more about bronchitis? Don’t hesitate to reach out today!