Bronchitis is a respiratory disease in which the mucus membrane in the lungs’ bronchial passages becomes inflamed.

As the irritated membrane swells and grows thicker, it narrows or shuts off the tiny airways in the lungs, resulting in coughing spells that may be accompanied by phlegm and breathlessness. The disease comes in two forms: acute (lasting from one to three weeks) and chronic (lasting at least 3 months of the year for two years in a row).

People with asthma may also have asthmatic bronchitis, inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes.

Symptoms of Acute Bronchitis include:

• Hacking cough that persists for 5 days or more

• Clear, yellow, white, or green phlegm

• Absence of fever, although a low grade fever may occasionally be present

• Soreness in the chest

If a fever is present (temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit), and there are signs that your general well being is affected, such as loss of appetite and generalized achiness, then pneumonia may be the cause of your symptoms. Pneumonia usually requires the use of antibiotics.

Symptoms of chronic bronchitis include:

• Persistent cough that produces clear, yellow, white, or green phlegm (for at least three months of the year, and for more than two years in a row)

• Sometimes wheezing, sometimes breathlessness

• Feeling very tired

Call Your Doctor, or come into if you have any of the following bronchitis-like symptoms:

• Your cough is so persistent or severe that it interferes with sleep or daily activities

• You have a high fever

• Your symptoms begin to worsen

• You have bloody or rusty-colored sputum

• The cough lasts longer than a week

• Your mucus becomes darker, thicker or increases in volume

• You have symptoms of acute bronchitis and have chronic lung, heart or other medical problems, or are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS