Acute bronchitis is an infection of the bronchial tree, or the main air passages to the lungs. When these air passages become infected, they swell and fill with mucus, making it difficult to breathe.

Acute bronchitis generally follows a viral respiratory infection. It is spread from person to person by coughing. You can “catch” acute bronchitis by breathing in the viruses or touching hands coated with the viruses.

People who smoke are more likely to get acute bronchitis because their bronchial tree is already damaged from the cigarette smoke. This can break down your body’s defense against infection.


  • Tickle deep in the throat, which develops into a dry cough
  • Cough may become productive with thick yellow mucus
  • Slight fever
  • Fatigue
  • Mild shortness of breath
  • Chest soreness, especially with coughing