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Symptoms of acute bronchitis are different for each person. The most common symptom is a nagging cough that can last for weeks. The cough is usually productive, which means you bring up sputum (mucus). This material can range in color from clear to green. Acute bronchitis doesn't usually cause a fever, but it can.
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.
This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.