Bronchitis Causes and Prevention

Bronchitis causes inflammation in your bronchial tube linings. Bronchial tubes bring oxygen by inhaling and exhaling air to and from the lungs. Patients who have thickened mucus appear as a discoloured cough. If you do not treat it early on, it can become either acute or chronic.

Often colds or other respiratory infections because of smoking can cause the disease. Acute bronchitis, also known as a chest cold, which is common in patients, recovers in about ten days but can last longer.

Chronic bronchitis is a more severe health condition that manifests as repeated bouts of bronchitis and may lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

When the upper part of the nasal respiratory system gets infected by a virus or bacteria, there is no way to stop it from spreading to the lower airways and causing bronchitis.

Bronchitis Common Symptoms

Bronchitis is a condition in which the lining of the bronchial tubes has inflammation. Bronchitis starts with symptoms of a cold with mild body aches or headaches. The symptoms are similar in both acute and chronic bronchitis.

  • Thickened discoloured cough

  • Fatigue and apathy toward activities

  • Clear, white, grey, green, or yellowish mucus production, in severe conditions, may accompany a streak of blood

  • Fever & chills

  • Breathing shortness or discomfort

  • Discomfort in the chest

Bronchitis Common Causes

Bronchitis is primarily a virus-caused disease that also causes colds and influenza. The most common human-triggered external factors causing bronchitis are smoking, pollution, toxic gas, dust, and environmental and workplace-related chemical hazards.

The same viruses that cause cold and flu can cause bronchitis. Bronchitis infection in the nose, throat, or sinuses spreads to the bronchial tubes, causing inflammation.

The source of most of the common causes of bronchitis is viruses or viral infections. Around 95% of diagnosed cases, according to research, caused by the virus are acute bronchitis.

People with a pre-existing health condition, such as diabetes, weak immunity, or family history, are at risk of developing pneumonia and influenza and a more severe health condition called bronchitis.

The common causes are industrial dust, chemical fumes, air pollutants, and irritants, chronic uncontrolled asthma, frequent infection in upper nasal respiratory epithelium, and recurrence of cold and flu that does not go away.

The virus and bacteria infecting the inflamed upper nasal respiratory epithelium or bronchial tubes cause acute bronchitis.  

Risk Factors Aggravating Bronchitis

You may not take all the precautions to prevent bronchitis. However, you can mitigate the risk of getting one by following the prevention mechanism when possible.


Smoking cigarettes or passive smoking are harmful, and such people are at a high risk of acute and chronic bronchitis.

Weak Immunity and Resistance

People more likely to catch a cold quickly could be because of other illnesses already present, such as chronic colds and conditions impairing the immune system. Aging people, the elderly, infants, and young children are prone to infections leading to bronchitis.

Hazardous Workplace Chemicals, Irritants, and air Pollutants

If you have lung irritants, grains, and chemical fumes around your workplace, you stand at a higher risk of developing bronchitis. If you have a toxic environment or high air pollution, inhaling them may lead to bronchitis.

Gastric Reflux

Frequent severe heartburn can cause throat irritation and may lead to bronchitis. A single occurrence of such an instance is not a concern for bronchitis. Recurrence may cause pneumonia in some. Recurrence of bouts of bronchitis may cause COPD.


Precaution and avoidance of the below conditions can prevent bronchitis.

Avoid a Chemically Hazardous Environment

Use a medically approved or surgical mask at all times if you have to work in such an environment daily. Select the time to work when the chemical fumes or irritants are the least in the air.

Steer Clear of Smoking and People who Smoke

Stop smoking if you do. If you have people smoking around you and who expose you to passive or second-hand smoking, it increases the risk of acute bronchitis. If you do not smoke, ensure you are not passively inhaling cigarette smoke from around.

Bronchitis-preventing Vaccination

Get the flu shot annually. Pneumonia and influenza or a virus can lead to acute bronchitis. Taking a flu shot every year can help stop you from getting the flu. The flu shot vaccination may protect you from a few types of pneumonia.

Maintain Hygiene and Wash Hands

Maintaining a good hygiene level is essential to avoid viruses and pollutants. Wash your hands and cover your limbs and exposed body parts before entering a toxic environment. Even when traveling in a crowd or areas filled with dust, fumes, and irritants, wash your hands and exposed body parts with alcohol-based sanitizers.

Avoid Proximity to Infected People

Cold and flu symptoms are visible and easy to detect. Avoid going near people who have cough or flu symptoms. Cover your face if you have no options to stay away from them. Maintain a safe distance from people coming down with an illness or having visible symptoms of fever and flu with coughing.

Avoid Physical Contact

The virus spreads through physical contact or coming close, where the virus can travel from one body to another. If you touch an object already touched by an infected person, you may get infected with the virus.

Objects made of metal, such as door handles, electric switches, and coffee pots, and after touching them, if you pat your eyes, mouth, and nose, which are inroads to your respiratory systems, drive the virus into your body.

Even the virus germ and droplets can travel in the air for up to six feet when the infected person coughs or sneezes.


If you are experiencing a dry cough, difficulty in getting it away, mucus production, and other similar symptoms, it may lead to acute bronchitis. The illness may last from three to ten days.

Bronchitis is a virus caused or bacteria caused by a health condition than may lead to bronchitis. Early diagnosis and treatment, vaccination, and maintaining hygiene can help a long way in preventing the causes of bronchitis.

Updated on: 13-Apr-2023


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