Bronchitis refers to chronic non-specific inflammation of the trachea, bronchial mucosa, and surrounding tissues. The main cause of bronchitis is chronic non-specific inflammation of the bronchus caused by repeated infections of viruses and bacteria.
1. Acute bronchitis
In the early stage of acute bronchitis, symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection are often manifested. Patients usually have clinical manifestations such as nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, and hoarseness. The systemic symptoms are mild, but low-grade fever, chills, general fatigue, conscious throat itching, irritating cough, and pain behind the breastbone may occur. There is not much sputum in the early stage, but the sputum is not easy to be coughed up. After 2 to 3 days, the sputum may turn from mucous to mucopurulent. The patient's exposure to cold, inhalation of cold air, or irritating gas can aggravate or induce coughing. Patients often cough more prominently when they wake up in the morning or at night. Cough can also be paroxysmal and sometimes persistent. Severe coughing is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and chest and abdominal muscle pain. If accompanied by bronchospasm, there may be wheezing and shortness of breath. Generally speaking, the course of acute bronchitis has a certain degree of self-limitation, and the systemic symptoms can subside within 4 to 5 days, but the cough can sometimes be prolonged for several weeks.
Physical examination sometimes reveals dry rales, which disappear after coughing; occasionally, wet rales can be heard at the bottom of the lungs, and wheeze can be heard when accompanied by bronchospasm. Usually, the white blood cell count is normal, and there are no abnormal findings on chest X-rays.
2. Chronic bronchitis
Chronic bronchitis refers to patients who have chronic cough and sputum for more than three months each year after excluding various other causes of chronic cough and continues for two years. It is not necessarily accompanied by persistent airflow restriction.
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