Acute Bronchitis

What is acute bronchitis?

Bronchitis describes an inflammation of your child's large breathing tubes or airways, called bronchi. There are several different types of bronchitis, but the two most common are chronic, which primarily affects adults, and acute, which is an inflammation of the mucous membranes of your child's bronchial tubes. Although it is often a relatively mild condition, in the earlier stages of acute bronchitis, your child may experience a dry, non-productive cough. Later on, this will become an abundant, mucus-filled cough. This coughing may even cause your child to gag or vomit.

What causes acute bronchitis?

Acute bronchitis is usually caused by a virus — it often follows the common cold.

  • Acute bronchitis may occur in children who suffer from allergieschronic sinusitis, or those with enlarged tonsils and adenoids
  • Acute bronchitis can also be caused by dust, allergens, strong fumes, or secondhand smoke; acute bronchitis may be the cause or result of an asthma attack.
  • Pneumonia can be a complication of bronchitis

What are the symptoms of acute bronchitis?

Each child may experience symptoms differently, but common symptoms include:

  • runny nose, usually before a cough starts
  • malaise, or a general ill feeling
  • chills
  • slight fever
  • back and muscle pain
  • sore throat

How is acute bronchitis diagnosed and treated?

Usually, your child's physician will be able to diagnose bronchitis based solely on your child's medical history and a physical examination. Certain tests may be ordered, including chest X-rays, blood tests, and sputum cultures, to rule out other diseases and to confirm the diagnosis. It's important to consult with your child's physician, but most cases of acute bronchitis will go away on their own-symptoms usually last for one to two weeks. Make sure your child gets plenty of rest and drinks lots of water and fruit juices.