Bronchitis is an infection and inflammation of the bronchial tubes of the lungs, which causes a productive (wet) cough.
Bronchitis occurs when bronchial tubes (the tubes that lead from the windpipe to the lungs) become infected. This irritation leads to a mucus buildup. Your child will cough to bring the mucus up.
Bronchitis can be chronic (ongoing) or acute (sudden). Most children have acute bronchitis, caused by a virus or bacteria. It will eventually get better on its own or through treatment.
- Chronic bronchitis is primarily a concern for adults. It’s an ongoing, serious condition that is often caused by smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke.
- Acute bronchitis may follow a cold or other respiratory infection. It lasts from a few days to 10 days. However, coughing may linger for several weeks after the infection is gone. Pneumonia [Link to Pneumonia page] may follow bronchitis.
Bronchitis can be caused by a virus or bacteria. In 90 percent of cases, bronchitis is viral. Bronchitis can also be triggered by:
- Chronic sinusitis (sinus infection)
- Enlarged tonsils and adenoids (glands in the roof of the mouth)
- Irritants such as dust, fumes, vapors and air pollution
- Smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke (for chronic bronchitis)
Symptoms of bronchitis include:
- Back or muscle pain from coughing
- Chest pains while coughing
- Cough that may bring up thick white, yellow or greenish mucus
- Enlarged tonsils and adenoids
- Malaise (feeling run down)
- Nasal congestion
- Shortness of breath, tightness in chest
- Slight fever
- Sore throat
- Wheezing or rattling sounds while breathing