8 Symptoms of Bronchitis

Acute bronchitis is one of the most common respiratory illnesses. It is a condition where the bronchial tubes, the passages that transport air from the trachea to the lungs, become infected and inflamed. It differs from chronic bronchitis, which may last months or years and is due to a permanent respiratory disease like COPD or cystic fibrosis. The acute version normally lasts two to three weeks, though in rare cases, it may extend up to three months. Ninety-percent of cases are caused by a viral infection. This means antibiotic treatment is not effective against it. The main aim of treatment is to manage the symptoms and prevent the condition from worsening. There are an estimated 14.2 million cases of it diagnosed every year in the United States. The economic impact of the sickness is considerable with $3.5 billion spent on hospitalizations for bronchitis. While most cases do not respond to antibiotics, there are still several important steps a person can take to prevent or reduce the severity of a case of bronchitis. This is why it’s important to be aware of the eight signs common to bronchitis. This will help a person quickly recognize the onset of it and prevent the sickness from becoming serious.

1. Dry Cough

The main symptom of bronchitis is a dry cough which usually occurs with the onset of the sickness. When the cough persists for five days or longer, it is a clear sign of the sickness and warrants a visit with the doctor. A cough is the body’s defense mechanism to expel a foreign substance from its airways. Thus, a persistent cough is the body’s normal response to rid itself of the infection in the bronchial tubes. Bronchitis usually results from an upper respiratory infection that moves to the lower respiratory system. The lining of the bronchial tubes becomes irritated and inflamed due to infection, which then causes a person to cough. The coughing can also worsen the condition of the infected bronchial tubes. Dr. Benjamin Wedro writes, “Cough is a very violent action that results in dynamic collapse of the airways. This collapse results in the walls of the airways banging against one another. This action of cough can cause further inflammation and help perpetuate the problem by sustaining and increasing inflammation.” Dr. Sanjay Sethi, medical professor at the University at Buffalo explains why the cough remains even after a person begins to get better. “Cough is the last symptom to subside and often takes 2 to 3 weeks or even longer to do so. Viruses can damage the epithelial cells lining the bronchi, and the body needs time to repair the damage. Even after the other symptoms of bronchitis subside, the cough can linger on. This is due to the damage done by the virus to the airways,” he writes.