Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

pp 1-2

Date: Latest Version

Bronchitis

  • Linda C. BaumannAffiliated withSchool of Nursing, University of Wisconsin-Madison Email author 
  • , Alyssa YlinenAffiliated withAllina Health System Email author 

Synonyms

Common cold

Definition

Bronchitis is a respiratory condition in which there is inflammation of the bronchi and excess mucus secretion in the airway. This excess secretion of mucus often causes a partial obstruction of the bronchi. Bronchitis can either be short lived and self-limiting (acute) or present with a recurrent productive cough (chronic).

Description

Most cases of acute bronchitis are preceded by an acute viral infection of the upper respiratory tract, but bacterial causes are also not uncommon. The most common symptom is a persistent cough accompanied by excessive production of mucus. Other symptoms include headache, chest discomfort, and shortness of breath, which is often made worse with exertion. Because acute bronchitis is generally self-limiting and will subside within 7–10 days, treatment is often supportive and antibiotic treatment is not recommended. Supportive treatment consists of fluids, rest, anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin or acetaminophen, the ...

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