The confusion between bronchitis and asthma is fertile ground for misunderstanding and imprecise language. For example, "bronchial asthma" is actually a redundant term since the bronchi are always involved in asthma.
Some doctors refer to "asthmatic bronchitis" or "reactive airway disease" when a patient is having trouble breathing and perhaps wheezing, but they are not sure if the patient is suffering from an ongoing condition. This is often the case with infants and small children who start to wheeze when suffering from viral infections such as respiratory syncytial virus. Many may wheeze just once when they've had a viral respiratory infection, or occasionally over a period of one or two years. Some, however, do go on to develop classic asthma.