What is acute bronchitis?

Acute bronchitis, or simply bronchitis, is a condition in which the bronchial tubes (airways) become swollen and inflamed. The swelling and inflammation can make it harder to breathe. It is called acute bronchitis because the illness lasts only a few weeks.

What causes acute bronchitis?

Viruses (a certain type of germ) are the most common cause of acute bronchitis. Other causes include:

  • Bacteria
  • Fungal (fungus) infections
  • Spending time around things that can bother your airways, such as dust, chemicals or smoke

What is the difference between viruses and bacteria?

Bacteria can live in many different types of environments. There are good bacteria and bad bacteria. Infections caused by bad bacteria often get better with antibiotics.

Viruses are germs that multiply once a small number of virus germs enter your body. infections caused by viruses do not usually get better with antibiotics.

Rev. 3/2018. Reviewed by the MGHfC Family Advisory Council. This webpage is intended to provide health information so that you can be better informed. It is not a substitute for medical advice and should not be used to treatment of any medical conditions.