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Bronchitis is inflammation of the bronchial tubes, or bronchi - air passages that extend from the windpipe into the lungs. The inflammation may be caused by a virus, bacteria, smoking or the inhalation of chemical pollutants or dust. When the membranes lining the bronchi are irritated beyond a certain point, the tiny hairs (cilia) on the surface that normally trap and sweep away pollutants stop functioning. This in turn causes the air passages to become clogged and then a heavy secretion of mucus develops, causing the characteristic cough of bronchitis.


Symptoms may include:


  • cough with yellow/greenish mucus
  • soreness and a feeling of constriction or burning in the chest
  • sore throat
  • chest congestion
  • breathlessness
  • wheezing

Causes may include:


  • dust
  • allergens
  • chemical cleaning compounds
  • cigarette smoking - cited as the most common contributor to chronic bronchitis
  • bacterial infections
  • viral infections
  • environmental pollution

Treatment may include:


  • rest
  • liquids
  • medication

Types include:


  • Acute bronchitis - inflammation of mucus membranes of the bronchial or breathing tubes (airways). This condition is usually a mild and self-limiting condition, with complete healing and return to function.

  • Chronic bronchitis - a long-term inflammation of the bronchi, which results in increased production of mucus, as well as other changes.
  • pulmonology

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    Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton Hamilton. Phone: 609-586-7900 Physician Referral: 609-584-5900.

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