No doubt you've had your share of colds. Perhaps you even know someone who has had pneumonia. In between these 2 conditions is an illness called bronchitis, which is more severe than the common cold but not as dangerous as pneumonia.

What is bronchitis?

Lungs

Bronchitis occurs when the bronchioles (air tubes in the lungs) are inflamed and make too much mucus. There are 2 basic types of bronchitis:

  • Chronic bronchitis is a cough that persists for 2 to 3 months each year for at least 2 years. The cough and inflammation may be caused by infection, illness, or exposure to tobacco smoke or other irritating substances in the air.
  • Acute or short-term bronchitis is more common and usually is caused by a viral infection. Episodes of acute bronchitis can be related to and worsened by smoking.

What are the symptoms of bronchitis?

Symptoms of bronchitis include:

  • A cough that is frequent and produces mucus.
  • A lack of energy.
  • A wheezing sound when breathing (may or may not be present).
  • A fever (may or may not be present).