Bronchitis vs Acute Bronchitis: Difference and Comparison

Without lungs, it is impossible to breathe for a person because the lungs help to survive and play a role in the functioning of the body. Bronchial tubes, whose main function is to carry air to the lungs, make possible the breathing process.   

Even a single dust particle can cause so much irritation in the nasal passage. Bronchitis is one of the conditions which falls between pneumonia and the common cold. Bronchitis can be classified into two types: acute bronchitis and chronic bronchitis. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes, while acute bronchitis is a short-term condition, lasting less than three weeks.
  2. Acute bronchitis results from viral infections like cold or flu, whereas chronic bronchitis is primarily caused by long-term exposure to irritants, such as cigarette smoke or air pollution.
  3. Symptoms of acute bronchitis may include cough, mucus production, and mild fever, while chronic bronchitis is characterized by a persistent cough lasting at least three months.

Bronchitis vs Acute Bronchitis 

Unlike acute bronchitis, which develops from a respiratory infection such as a cold and goes away in a week or two, while chronic bronchitis is a more serious condition that develops over time. The symptoms of chronic bronchitis may get better or worse but won’t completely go away.

Bronchitis vs Acute Bronchitis

When inflammation occurs on the lining of bronchial tubes (carrying air to the lungs) is known as bronchitis. People suffering from bronchitis can come up with thickened and discolored mucus while coughing.

Bronchitis can be divided into acute and chronic. Acute lasts for 10 to 14 days, whereas chronic lasts for a longer time. 

When the airways of the lungs start swelling and producing mucus, it means that the person is suffering from a chest cold or acute bronchitis. It comes under the types of bronchitis. It lasts for less than three weeks.

As the culprit behind acute bronchitis is a virus, antibiotics are not preferred and, they even do not help to get better at all.

Comparison Table

Parameters of comparisonBronchitisAcute bronchitis
InterpretationInflammation of the bronchi and trachea. It can be acute or chronic.Inflammation of the trachea and bronchi lasts for a short period.
CausesAir pollution, dust or toxic gases, and smoking cigarette. Viruses are the same as viruses of colds and flu.
Symptoms Wheezing, lack of energy, shortness of breath, and cough with mucus. Chest congestion, sore throat, cough, and body aches.
DurationDepending upon the form it lasts for a week to several months.Sickness lasts from a week to 21 days.
Risk factorsTo those who smoke cigarettes, exposure to irritants and gastric reflux. To those who have a low resistance to the immune system.

What is Bronchitis? 

Bronchitis is a state which falls between pneumonia and the common cold. It occurs when the air-carrying tubes of the lungs, known as bronchioles, get inflamed and make mucus.

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Bronchitis can be classified into two types: chronic bronchitis, which lasts for a longer time and acute bronchitis, which lasts for 10 to 14 days. 

Depending upon the type of form, bronchitis can last from days to weeks and weeks to months. Bronchitis can be identified if the person is suffering from a wheezing sound while breathing, lack of energy, shortness of breath, and cough, which can be frequent and also produce mucus and fever. 

Medicaments of bronchitis depend on the type of bronchitis a patient is suffering. For acute bronchitis, patients do not need any kind of treatment. In case of bacterial infection, antibiotics might prescribe by a doctor.

Chronic bronchitis can be treated with oxygen therapy, surgery, drugs, and pulmonary rehabilitation. The airway clearance device helps to clear mucus by bringing it up.  

People suffering from acute bronchitis have few problems during their recovery process. They are preferred to stay at home during their recovery.

On the flip side, chronic bronchitis or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is not meant to be cured, but the treatment of its symptoms can be cured, which can improve the quality of life.

The treatment plan, functioning of the lungs, and symptoms matter a lot in the future. 

bronchitis

What is acute bronchitis? 

Viral infection, which causes inflammation of the bronchial tubes, is known as acute bronchitis. Bronchial tubes are the tubes that help to carry air into the lungs.

They swell if they get infected, and mucus (thick fluid) starts forming in them. As a result, airways become narrow, and it makes it harder for patients to breathe.  

Acute bronchitis is one of the types of bronchitis. It lasts for a short period, such as from several days to weeks. It takes this much time due to the healing process of bronchial tubes.

If the cough lasts for a long time, it may indicate asthma or pneumonia. One can identify acute bronchitis if a person is suffering from chest congestion, sore throat, cough, and body aches. 

In many cases, the main culprit behind acute bronchitis is a contagious virus that is the same as the virus that causes colds. Anyone can catch it by breathing it in or even by skin contact.

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This virus first affects the nose, sinuses, and throat. Later, bronchial tubes become its target. Mucus and swelling occur when the body fights with the virus. 

Acute bronchitis lasts for 7 to 10 days. It is necessary to call the doctor if a person is continuing wheezing and coughing for more than two weeks.

Acute bronchitis may develop into risky complications in some people, such as young children, those who have not got the vaccine, and patients with other health issues (asthma, diabetes, or cancer). 

acute bronchitis

Main Differences Between Bronchitis and Acute Bronchitis 

  1. In bronchitis, if a person is a smoker or suffering from cystic fibrosis, they may have a virus. On the other hand, in acute bronchitis, a person with a compromised immune system may have a viral infection. 
  2. For prevention, in bronchitis, one should not smoke cigarettes as well as avoid exposure to airborne chemicals which are harmful to health. Whereas in acute bronchitis, people should wear masks while using lung irritants such as paint remover and varnish, also, every year, get a flu shot.
  3. While diagnosing bronchitis, the doctor goes for a physical examination and asks some questions. It is rare if the doctor orders additional tests. While in acute bronchitis, doctors use a stethoscope to listen to the lungs and may order a chest X-ray to rule out pneumonia. 
  4. The main culprit for bronchitis is viral for acute and smoking for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). On the flip side, the culprit behind acute bronchitis is a virus that can be averted from getting the flu vaccine. 
  5. Medicaments of bronchitis include cough medicines which are suggested by the doctor in other cases, he might also prefer an inhaler if the patient is suffering from other problems. In acute bronchitis, pulmonary rehabilitation benefits from some home treatments, including drinking fluids, getting rest and using a humidifier, etc. 
Difference Between Bronchitis and Acute Bronchitis
References
  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=ZVZ4whXoJa4C&oi=fnd&pg=PA117&dq=bronchitis&ots=qKw1FEClwt&sig=T1PhViOsRyOFKwvYTHYf2YvyJLA
  2. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/nejmcp061493

Last Updated : 11 August, 2023

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25 thoughts on “Bronchitis vs Acute Bronchitis: Difference and Comparison”

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