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 are:

  • Having a cold or the flu
  • Being around others who are sick
  • Smoking, or being near others who smoke
  • Having allergies or asthma
  • Working with certain substances that can cause irritation of airways such as:
    • Ammonia
    • Chlorine
    • Minerals
    • Dusts from farming
  • Having a weak immune system



Acute bronchitis can cause:

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


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and past health. A physical exam may be done. Diagnosis is often based on symptoms.



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 can be lowered by:

  • Washing hands often
  • Staying away from sick people
  • 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.