Acute Bronchitis



Viruses are the most common cause of acute bronchitis. Bacteria can also cause it, but this is not as common.

Risk Factors

Things that raise the risk of acute bronchitis are:

  • Having a cold or the flu
  • Being around others who are sick
  • Smoking or being around people who smoke
  • Having allergies or asthma
  • Working with substances that can irritate the airways such as:
    • Ammonia
    • Chlorine
    • Minerals
    • Dusts from farming
  • Having a weakened immune system



Acute bronchitis can cause:

  • Coughing
  • Breathing problems
  • Wheezing
  • Slight fever
  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy nose


The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.



An infection caused by a virus will usually go away on its own within a week. The cough can last for up to a month.

The goal of treatment is to ease symptoms. It includes:

  • Drinking more fluids
  • Resting
  • Medicines to lower fever and manage coughing
  • Inhalers to open airways and ease breathing

An infection caused by bacteria will also need antibiotics.


The risk of acute bronchitis may be lowered by:

  • Washing hands often
  • Staying away from people who are sick
  • Not smoking

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.