Acute bronchitis is a shorter illness that commonly follows a cold or viral infection, such as the flu. It consists of a cough with mucus, chest discomfort or soreness, fever, and, sometimes, shortness of breath. Acute bronchitis usually lasts a few days or weeks.
Chronic bronchitis is a serious, ongoing illness characterized by a persistent, mucus-producing cough that lasts longer than 3 months out of the year for more than 2 years. People with chronic bronchitis have varying degrees of breathing difficulties, and symptoms may get better and worse during different parts of the year.
If chronic bronchitis occurs with emphysema, it may become chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Signs and symptoms of both acute and chronic bronchitis include:
- Persistent cough, which may produce mucus
- Low fever and chills
- Chest tightening
- Sore throat
- Body aches
- Blocked nose and sinuses
- One of the main symptoms of acute bronchitis is a cough that
- lasts for several weeks. It can sometimes last for several months if the bronchial tubes take a long time to heal fully.
It is common for the symptoms of chronic bronchitis to get worse two or more times every year, and they are often worse during the winter months.
However, a cough that refuses to go away could also be a sign of another illness such as asthma or pneumonia.