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Common symptoms of acute bronchitis include:

  • Coughing that lasts between 10 and 20 days (though it is possible for coughing to last more than 30 days)
  • Coughing up clear, yellow, or green mucus; this is called a “productive cough,” and it helps to clear the lungs
  • Wheezing
  • Mild shortness of breath
  • A sore chest caused by coughing

If you experience the following symptoms, you should contact your doctor:

  • Coughing that does not improve after 10 days
  • A high fever (a fever over 100.4° F)
  • A worsening cough with fever and discolored mucus; together, these are early signs of pneumonia
  • Coughing and chest pain
  • A hoarse, raspy cough that sounds like a barking seal
  • Coughing up blood or mucus containing blood
  • Unintentional weight loss together with a cough

Note: If you are 75 years or older, you should contact your doctor if you have a persistent cough, even if you don’t have any of the other symptoms above.

Some people are more likely to develop bronchitis than others. Some of the things that increase the risk that a person will develop acute bronchitis are:

  • The common cold
  • Asthma
  • Exposure to cigarette smoke
  • Exposure to heavy air pollution
  • Exposure to irritants found at job sites, such as chemical fumes, dust from grains and textiles, and other fumes found in factory or industrial settings
  • Chronic lung problems such as COPD or cystic fibrosis
  • Severe heartburn