Updated: 8/27/2018

Acute Bronchitis

Review Topic
  • A 22-year-old man presents to his physician with a cough. He describes the cough as non-productive and lasting for a few days. He denies any subjective fever, acid reflux, and has not had his influenza vaccination. On physical exam, there are wheezes and rhonchi on pulmonary auscultation. The patient is reassured that his symptoms will self-resolve in 1-3 weeks and that he can try tea or over-the-counter medications, such as dextromethorphan, to improve his cough.
  • Definition
    • inflammation of the lower respiratory tract
  • Epidemiology
    • incidence
      • viruses are a more common cause
  • Etiology
    • viruses
      • influenza A and B
      • parainfluenza
      • respiratory syncytial virus
      • coronavirus
      • adenovirus
      • rhinovirus
      • human metapneumovirus
  • Prognosis
    • typically self-limiting (1-3 weeks)
  • Symptoms
    • cough (lasts at least 5 days)
      • can be productive or nonproductive
    • may be accompanied by cold symptoms
      • fever
      • sore throat
      • nasal congestion and runny nose
  • Physical exam
    • pulmonary auscultation
      • wheezes
      • rhonchi
  • Making the diagnosis
    • based on history and physical exam
      • imaging is not necessary
  • Pneumonia
    • differentiating factor
      • a cough with fever, tachypnea, or tachycardia with signs of consolidation or rales
  • Postnasal drip syndrome
    • differentiating factor
      • a sensation of post nasal drainage
  • Symptomatic treatment
    • cough
      • conservative
        • hot tea, lozenges, and smoking avoidance
      • medical
        • dextromethorphan
        • guaifenesin


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