Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchioles, which are tubes in the lungs that carry air. Bronchitis involves a persistent cough that often produces thick and discolored mucus. Factors that increase a person’s risk for bronchitis include smoking, gastric reflux, repeated exposure to lung irritants and a weakened immune system.
There are two types of bronchitis, acute and chronic. Acute bronchitis is more common and frequently comes from a cold or a viral respiratory infection. This condition usually improves within just a few days. Chronic bronchitis is more serious and is characterized by a constant inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, and is often caused by smoking. Chronic bronchitis lasts two to three months each year for two years or more.
While acute bronchitis is typically caused by a virus, chronic bronchitis is often a result of smoking or pollution. Additional risk factors for bronchitis include a weakened immune system, extended exposure to lung irritants and repeated episodes of gastric reflux.