What is Acute Bronchitis?
Acute bronchitis is sudden inflammation in the lower respiratory tract, usually caused by a viral illness that affects the air tubes known as the bronchi of the lungs. The condition usually has a rapid onset with symptoms such as chest tightness, shortness of breath, wheezing and a cough (either dry or mucus producing).
It can start as a viral illness that moves from the upper respiratory tract to the lower respiratory tract usually after a cold. It may also occur after breathing in irritants like cigarette smoke, dust and air pollution. Only a small percentage of cases are due to a bacterial infection, which means that for the majority of patients with acute bronchitis, the illness will get better on its own.