Bronchitis is a common respiratory disease that involves inflammation and often infection of the bronchial mucosal membranes. The symptoms generated by bronchitis vary according to the causes and the seriousness of the disease. Judging by the intensity and the duration of the disease, bronchitis can be either acute or chronic.
Acute bronchitis has a rapid onset and generates intense symptoms. However, most people with acute bronchitis respond well to specific treatments and are usually recovered quickly and permanently, with minimal risks of relapse. Acute bronchitis is very common among children and thus it is also commonly referred to as “childhood bronchitis”. This type of bronchitis may last from a few days to 2-3 weeks. Acute bronchitis is highly treatable and it rarely leads to complications. However, in the absence of medical treatment, acute bronchitis may eventually become chronic, or it can further lead to pulmonary diseases (pneumonia, emphysema).
Unlike acute bronchitis, chronic forms of the disease generate persistent, recurrent symptoms. Although the clinical manifestations of chronic bronchitis are less intense, this type of disease is very difficult to treat. Even if patients with chronic bronchitis respond well to specific medical treatments, they often experience relapse after completing their prescribed course of medications. Chronic bronchitis can last for around three months, regularly reoccurring on the period of two years or even more. Chronic bronchitis often involves the lungs, and it can lead to serious pulmonary diseases. In fact, chronic bronchitis is one of the most commonly diagnosed types of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Chronic bronchitis has a very high incidence in smokers and it is also known as “the smokers’ disease”.
According to the triggers of the disease, bronchitis can also be categorized into infectious and non-infectious bronchitis. Non-infectious bronchitis is generally the result of prolonged exposure to chemicals, cigarette smoke and pollutants. Allergens (pollen, dust particles) are also triggers of non-infectious bronchitis, causing the disease to reoccur on a regular time basis. Infectious bronchitis involves infection with microorganisms and its generated symptoms are usually more intense. Common infectious agents responsible for causing this type of bronchitis are bacteria, viruses, mycoplasmas and fungal organisms.
Acute bronchitis is often associated with bacterial or viral infections. The disease is commonly acquired in the flu seasons and it generates symptoms such as: dry or low-productive cough, chills, low or moderate fever, sore throat, chest discomfort and pain, wheezing and difficulty breathing. With appropriate treatment, the symptoms of acute infectious bronchitis are quickly alleviated and the disease can be completely overcome within a couple of weeks.
Chronic bronchitis is usually the result of mistreated or untreated previous respiratory diseases. This type of bronchitis often occurs when the bronchial mucosal membranes become inflamed and infected multiple times over a short period of time. Chronic bronchitis is usually the consequence of exposure to both infectious and non-infectious agents. The occurrence and the progression of chronic bronchitis are strongly influenced by smoking, which augments the symptoms of the disease and slows down the healing of the respiratory tissues and organs. Chronic bronchitis generates symptoms such as highly productive cough, pronounced difficulty in breathing, shallow breathing, wheezing, chest discomfort and pain.