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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:47 pm
There are two types of bronchitis: acute and chronic. Acute bronchitis is the inflammation of the mucous membrane that lines the bronchi (BRAWNK-eye), or main passages of the lungs, and usually only lasts a few days. It is often caused by a viral infection and may begin after you develop a cold or sore throat. The first symptom is an uncomfortable cough, which often produces a thick yellowish or grayish phlegm (flem). Other symptoms include pain in the upper chest, wheezing, and fever. To relieve the discomforts associated with bronchitis, make yourself comfortable and avoid cold air, tobacco smoke, and air pollution. Inhaling steam from a running shower or vaporizer may help to clear nasal passages. Your doctor may also recommend cough medicine, antibiotics, and rest. Chronic bronchitis usually persists for long periods of time and occurs most often in heavy smokers or as the result of recurring episodes of acute bronchitis. People with chronic bronchitis should not smoke and should avoid cold, polluted, and smoky environments. They should also stay away from people with colds, which could lead to another attack of bronchitis. Treatment depends on how far the condition has progressed, but may include an inhaler and antibiotics. For more information about bronchitis, contact a health care provider.

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