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Acute Bronchitis

  • Overview

    Bronchitis describes an inflammation of your child's large breathing tubes, or airways (properly called bronchi.)

    • There are several different types of bronchitis, but the two most common are chronic (which primarily affects adults) and acute.
    • Acute bronchitis, the inflammation of the mucous membranes of your child's bronchial tubes, is often a relatively mild condition.

    Contact Us

    Children's Hospital Boston
    300 Longwood Avenue, Fegan 6
    Boston MA 02115


    Children's Hospital Boston at Lexington
    482 Bedford Street
    Lexington MA 02420

     fax: 781-672-2145
    Children's Hospital Boston at Peabody
    1 Essex Center Drive
    Peabody MA 01960

     fax: 978-538-3610

  • In-Depth

    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 allergies, chronic 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

    What about a cough?

    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.

  • Tests

    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.

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