Lung Disease and Respiratory System

What are the symptoms of acute bronchitis?

A Answers (2)

  • AHealthyWomen answered
    Acute bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchi, the air passages or tubes to the lungs. Symptoms include:
    • A fever of 100 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit
    • An irritating, dry, painful cough that starts to produce small amounts of white or light yellow sputum after two or three days; at this stage the fever often recedes, and the pain from coughing diminishes. If your sputum is yellow-green or green in color, you may have a bacterial infection.
    • Even after the condition improves, a slight cough commonly remains for another week or two. Most cases of acute bronchitis simply represent continued inflammation from viral infection, rather than a bacterial complication. Many people benefit from short-term use of an inhaled bronchodilator such as albuterol.
    You usually don't need antibiotics, regardless of how long your cough has lasted. However, if you have a cough for three weeks or more, you should be carefully evaluated to rule out pneumonia or bacterial bronchitis. If you are producing green secretions when you cough, you may have a bacterial infection and need antibiotics.
  • AHealthwise answered

    Symptoms of 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 101°F (38.3°C). A higher fever may indicate pneumonia.
    • 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 coughing.
    • Whistling noises (wheezing) when breathing, especially during physical exertion.
    • Hoarseness.

    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.

    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 asthma and 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.

    This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. To learn more visit

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