Bronchitis

Our healthcare providers diagnose and treat bronchitis and other respiratory conditions. At MaineHealth, our primary care doctors and family healthcare providers coordinate care with specialists, as patients need them.

We also have walk-in care if you or a family member has a bad cough that won’t go away and needs immediate attention.

What is bronchitis?

Bronchitis happens when the tubes that carry air to and from the lungs become swollen. The lining of the bronchial tubes is inflamed or infected. As the airway gets smaller, people cough.

Bronchitis has two forms:

  • Acute bronchitis (lasting up to a few weeks), and

  • Chronic bronchitis (lasting at least three months of the year for two years in a row).

Acute bronchitis is caused by a virus or bacteria. Other causes may be tobacco smoke, air pollution or chemicals. The most common symptom of acute bronchitis is a cough that doesn’t go away.

Acute Bronchitis Symptoms and Treatment

Acute Bronchitis Is Short Term

  • Coughing

  • Mucous buildup

  • Sore chest

  • Feeling tired

  • Headache and body ache

  • Watery eyes

  • Sore throat

  • Fever

Acute bronchitis symptoms can last up to two or three weeks. Then people return to normal. Symptoms of acute bronchitis are similar to symptoms of other respiratory conditions, including the flu, sinusitis, pneumonia, GERD and lung cancer.

Call your primary care doctor or family healthcare provider. Your doctor can give you the right diagnosis and care.

Chronic Bronchitis Symptoms and Treatment

Chronic Bronchitis Requires Ongoing Care

Chronic bronchitis is a serious respiratory condition. Chronic bronchitis is one of two main types of COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. With chronic bronchitis, it is hard to breathe. Chronic bronchitis usually is caused by smoking. Air pollution can make symptoms worse. Dust and toxic gases also may be a cause of chronic bronchitis.

People with chronic bronchitis often need ongoing medical treatment. People who smoke cigarettes and have chronic bronchitis have a harder time getting better. They often can have lung damage that does not heal.

Treatment for chronic bronchitis may include inhalers and steroids prescribed by your doctor. Oxygen therapy and pulmonary rehabilitation also help symptoms.

 It also is important to get a yearly flu shot and vaccine for pneumonia.

Help for Chronic Bronchitis

"Living Well with COPD" is a guide to managing your condition, which may be chronic bronchitis or emphysema. Download the guide here.

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