Acute bronchitis history and symptoms

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Seyedmahdi Pahlavani, M.D. [2]; Nate Michalak, B.A.


Careful history taking and physical examination may lead to specific etiologic findings.[1][2] Symptoms include bronchial irritation symptoms and constitutional symptoms.


The patient presents with cough and wheezing that may have started with or without fever.[3]


Symptoms of acute bronchitis are typically related to irritation of airways. Sometimes, constitutional symptoms are present.[3]

Bronchial irritation symptoms

Note: that despite common sense,phlegm production does not necessarily indicate bacterial infection.[3]

Constitutional Symptoms

Additional Symptoms Based on Different Pathogens[1]

Influenza Virus & Adenovirus

Parainfluenza Virus

  • Children may present with stridor and difficultly breathing
  • Common in autumn season
  • Common cause of outbreak in nursing homes

Respiratory Syncytial Virus

  • Common in winter and spring
  • Family history of exposure to an infant with bronchiolitis is important.


  • Mild symptoms

Atypical Bacteria

Bordetella Pertusis

  • Commonly affects young adults
  • Incubation period of 1-3 weeks
  • Cough lasting > 2 weeks
  • Fever uncommon

Mycoplasma Pneumoniae & Chlamydiae Pneumonia

  • Subacute onset, 2-3 week (helps in differentiating from influenza)
  • Common in closed environment (military bases, schools, hostels)


  1. 1.0 1.1 Wenzel RP, Fowler AA (2006). "Clinical practice. Acute bronchitis". N. Engl. J. Med. 355 (20): 2125–30. doi:10.1056/NEJMcp061493. PMID 17108344.
  2. Graffelman AW, le Cessie S, Knuistingh Neven A, Wilemssen FE, Zonderland HM, van den Broek PJ (2007). "Can history and exam alone reliably predict pneumonia?". J Fam Pract. 56 (6): 465–70. PMID 17543257.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Albert RH (2010). "Diagnosis and treatment of acute bronchitis". Am Fam Physician. 82 (11): 1345–50. PMID 21121518.
  4. "Civilian Outbreak of Adenovirus Acute Respiratory Disease -- South Dakota, 1997". Retrieved 2007-10-08.

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