acute bronchitis usually begin 3 to 4 days after an
upper respiratory infection, such as a cold or
influenza (flu). Symptoms usually include:
- A cough, which is the main symptom of acute bronchitis. It may be
dry at first (does not produce
mucus) and after a few days may bring up mucus from
the lungs (productive cough). The mucus may be clear, yellow, or green.
Sometimes, small streaks of blood may be present.
- A mild fever, usually less than
. A higher fever
- A general feeling of tiredness.
- A sensation of tightness, burning, or dull pain in the chest
under the breastbone that usually is worse when breathing deeply or
- Whistling noises (wheezing) when breathing, especially
during physical exertion.
Most cases of acute bronchitis in otherwise healthy people
last only 2 to 3 weeks. But more than 20% of people with acute bronchitis have
a cough that lasts more than 4 weeks.2
Often it is hard to tell the difference between
viral and bacterial forms of acute bronchitis, and
many conditions have symptoms
similar to acute bronchitis, such as
pneumonia. Because pneumonia can be a serious
complication, it is important to know the
differences between acute bronchitis and pneumonia.
For example, a high fever, shaking chills, and shortness of breath often occur
with pneumonia but not with acute bronchitis.
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