Acute bronchitis

Last reviewed: 7 Jun 2022
Last updated: 13 May 2022

Summary

Definition

History and exam

Key diagnostic factors

  • presence of risk factors
  • duration of cough <30 days
  • productive cough
  • no history of chronic respiratory illness
  • exclusion of other respiratory and cardiac illness as cause for symptoms
More key diagnostic factors

Other diagnostic factors

  • fever
  • wheezes
  • rhonchi
Other diagnostic factors

Risk factors

  • viral or atypical bacterial infection exposure
  • cigarette smoking
  • household pollution exposure
More risk factors

Diagnostic investigations

1st investigations to order

  • clinical diagnosis
More 1st investigations to order

Investigations to consider

  • pulmonary function test
  • chest x-ray
  • C-reactive protein
More investigations to consider

Emerging tests

  • procalcitonin

Treatment algorithm

ACUTE

cough ≤4 weeks

ONGOING

cough >4 weeks

Contributors

Authors

William J. Hueston, MD

Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs

Professor of Family and Community Medicine

Medical College of Wisconsin

Milwaukee

WI

Disclosures

WJH receives compensation from the American Physicians' Institute for the development and presentation of continuing physician education material related to primary care respiratory diseases, including acute bronchitis. WJH has received compensation from the Hong Kong Food and Health Bureau’s Research Fund Secretariat to review research grants for respiratory conditions such as acute bronchitis. He is also the author of a number of references cited in this topic.

Acknowledgements

Dr William J. Hueston would like to gratefully acknowledge Dr Ann M. Rodden, a previous contributor to this topic.

Disclosures

AMR declares that she has no competing interests.

Peer reviewers

David L. Hahn, MD

Clinical Professor

School of Medicine and Public Health

University of Wisconsin-Madison

WI

Disclosures

DLH declares that he has no competing interests.

Cristine Radojicic, MD

Staff Physician

Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland

OH

Disclosures

CR declares that she has no competing interests.

Philip W. Ind, BA (Cantab), MB BChir, MA (Cantab), FRCP

Consultant Physician

Honorary Senior Lecturer

Imperial College Healthcare Trust

Hammersmith Hospital

London

UK

Disclosures

PWI declares that he has no competing interests.

  • Differentials

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  • Guidelines

    • Acute cough due to acute bronchitis in immunocompetent adult outpatients: CHEST expert panel report
    • Cough (acute): antimicrobial prescribing
    More Guidelines
  • Patient leaflets

    Bronchitis

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