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Health Information For Parents
Bronchitis is when the lining of the large breathing tubes get inflamed (swollen and red). These airways, called the bronchial tubes, connect the windpipe to the lungs. Their delicate lining makes mucus, and covers and protects the organs and tissues involved in breathing.
Bronchitis (brong-KYE-tis) can:
The most common symptom of bronchitis is a lasting cough.
Bronchitis can be acute or chronic:
Acute bronchitis comes on quickly and can cause severe symptoms. But it lasts no more than a few weeks. Viruses cause most cases of bronchitis. Many different viruses can infect the respiratory tract and attack the bronchial tubes. Infection by some bacteria can also cause acute bronchitis. Most people have acute bronchitis at some point in their lives.
Chronic bronchitis is rare in children. It can be mild to severe and lasts longer (from several months to years). The most common cause of chronic bronchitis is smoking. The bronchial tubes stay inflamed and irritated, and make lots of mucus over time. People who have chronic bronchitis have a higher risk of bacterial infections of the airway and lungs, like pneumonia.
Acute bronchitis often starts with a dry, annoying cough triggered by the
of the lining of the bronchial tubes.
Other symptoms may include:
For people with chronic bronchitis:
Acute bronchitis is usually caused by a virus. It may happen along with or after a cold or other respiratory infection. Viruses can spread:
Things that put people at risk for chronic bronchitis include:
When doctors suspect bronchitis, they will do an exam and listen to a child’s chest with a stethoscope to check for wheezing and congestion.
No tests are needed to diagnose bronchitis. But the doctor may order a chest X-ray to rule out a condition like pneumonia. Sometimes doctors do a breathing test (called spirometry) to check for asthma. Some kids who seem to get bronchitis a lot — with coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath — may have asthma instead.
Doctors won’t prescribe an antibiotic for bronchitis caused by a virus. Antibiotics work only against bacteria, not viruses.
Home care helps most kids with bronchitis feel better. The doctor will recommend that kids and teens:
For some older kids or teens, doctors might say it’s OK to give an over-the-counter or prescription cough medicine to ease coughing. They also sometimes prescribe a bronchodilator (brong-ko-DY-lay-ter) or other medicines that treat asthma. These help relax and open the bronchial tubes and clear mucus so it’s easier to breathe. Kids usually get these medicines through inhalers or nebulizer machines.
A child or teen with chronic bronchitis should avoid being near whatever irritates their bronchial tubes. For people who smoke, that means quitting. Tobacco smoke causes more than 80% of all cases of chronic bronchitis. Smokers also take longer to recover from acute bronchitis and other respiratory infections.
Washing hands well and often can help prevent the spread of many of the germs that cause bronchitis, especially during cold and flu season.
Encourage anyone in your family who smokes to quit. Protect kids — with or without bronchitis — from secondhand smoke. It can put them at risk for viral infections and increased congestion in their airways.
Colds are the most common infectious disease in the United States – and the top reason kids visit the doctor and miss school.
Coughs are a common symptom, butÂ most aren’t a sign of a serious condition. Learn about different coughs, how to help your child feel better, and when to call your doctor.
Asthma makes it hard to breathe. But with treatment, the condition can be managed so that kids can still do the things they love. Learn all about asthma.
Bronchiolitis is a common illness of the respiratory tract caused by an infection that affects tiny airways. The best treatment for most kids with bronchiolitis is time to recover and plenty of fluids.
By the time we’re 70 years old, we will have taken at least 600 million breaths. All of this breathing couldn’t happen without the respiratory system.
Bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa can cause disease. Here’s how to help protect your family from germs.
Each day you breathe about 20,000 times. Find out more about the lungs and breathing process.
Asthma makes it hard to breathe. Find out more in this article for kids.
Asthma is a lung condition that makes it hard to breathe. Learn all about asthma here.
More than 200 viruses can cause colds. Because there are so many, there isn’t a vaccination to prevent you from getting colds. Fortunately, your body already has the best cold cure â your immune system.
Germs are tiny organisms that can cause disease – and they’re so small that they can creep into your system without you noticing. Find out how to protect yourself.
The health risks of smoking are well known, many young people still do it. Here’s how to help your kids avoid smoking, vaping, or using chewing tobacco – or quit, if they’ve already started.
Smoking is on the decline, but some people are still lighting up. Why? The answer is addiction. Find out more in this article for teens.
Everyone says smoking is bad for you. Why? Find out in this article for kids.
Smoking – or even breathing in secondhand smoke – can make asthma worse. Find out more in this article for kids.
Being a smoker is an obvious risk for kids and teens with asthma, but just being around people who smoke – and breathing in secondhand smoke – can cause problems, too.
Find out why smoking is a bad idea – especially for people with asthma.
Nearly 1 in 5 deaths in the United States is related to tobacco. Are you ready to kick the habit?
Pneumonia is a common lung infection that can usually be treated without a hospital stay.
Pneumonia is a lung infection that can be caused by different types of germs, most commonly viruses. Read about symptoms and treatment.
Many kids with this milder version of pneumonia feel well enough to go to school. But it’s important to keep kids home until after treatment kicks in and symptoms improve.
Antibiotics are powerful medicines that can help kids feel better — but only when they have certain illnesses. Find out if an antibiotic is right for your child.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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