How Common Is Bronchitis?

Did you know? More than 3 million bronchitis cases occur every year in the United States.

The good news is that bronchitis rates have been declining each year, but those who are over the age of 65 or under the age of 2 are still likely to get this infection. Our AFC Urgent Care Gastonia team provides more information about bronchitis below, so keep reading!

What Is Bronchitis?

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, which carry air to and from the lungs. People who have bronchitis often cough up thickened mucus, which can be discolored. Bronchitis may be either acute or chronic, and it can turn into pneumonia when left untreated or not treated quickly.

Often developing from a cold or other respiratory infection, acute bronchitis is very common. Chronic bronchitis, a more serious condition, is a constant irritation or inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, which is often due to smoking. We’ve listed some common symptoms of both types of bronchitis below.

Common Acute and Chronic Bronchitis Symptoms

  • Cough
  • Production of mucus (sputum), which can be clear, white, yellowish-gray or green in color—rarely, it may be streaked with blood
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Slight fever and chills
  • Chest discomfort

How Serious Is Bronchitis?

Chronic bronchitis is more serious than acute bronchitis. Most people get over a bout of acute bronchitis in two to three weeks, although the cough can sometimes hang on for four weeks or more. If you’re in otherwise good health, your lungs will return to normal after you’ve recovered from the initial infection.

Chronic bronchitis, however, is a more serious condition that develops over time. Symptoms may get better or worse, but they will never completely go away. These extended periods of inflammation cause sticky mucus to build up in the airways, leading to long-term breathing difficulties. We’ve listed some good prevention techniques below to help you lower your risk of developing bronchitis.

Ways to Prevent Bronchitis

  • Avoid being in close contact with anyone who’s sick.
  • Avoid sharing glasses or utensils with someone who has bronchitis, a cold, COVID-19 or the flu.
  • Don’t touch used tissue, since viruses that cause bronchitis can be spread through mucus.
  • Get the flu shot annually and get the COVID-19 vaccine and applicable boosters.
  • Wash your hands often in warm, soapy water.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with dirty hands.

Have further questions about bronchitis or other respiratory illnesses? Don’t hesitate to reach out today!