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Acute Bronchitis Symptoms, Causes & Risk Factors

Acute bronchitis is sometimes diagnosed as pneumonia, but a chest X-ray can help distinguish between the two.

What Are the Symptoms of Acute Bronchitis?

The most common symptoms of acute bronchitis are:

  • Coughing up mucus that may be yellow or green
  • Runny and stuffy nose starting a few days before the chest congestion
  • Feeling run-down or tired
  • Sore ribs from prolonged periods of coughing
  • Not being able to be as active
  • Wheezing or a whistling sound while breathing

What Causes Acute Bronchitis?

Acute bronchitis is usually caused by a respiratory virus and occasionally by bacterial infection, although this occurs in less than 10 percent of cases).

What Are Risk Factors for Acute Bronchitis?

  • Close contact with someone who has a cold or acute bronchitis
  • Failure to get age-appropriate immunizations (shots)
  • Exposure to tobacco smoke, fumes, dust and air pollution

When to See Your Doctor

You should see your doctor if you think you have acute bronchitis and if your symptoms persist.

    This content was developed in partnership with the CHEST Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the American College of Chest Physicians.

    Page Last Updated: March 13, 2018

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