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eMed previously Babylon Health


Written by Dr Claudia Pastides, 13th March 2019

Bronchitis is inflammation of the lining of the tubes that carry air to your lungs. Acute bronchitis is usually due to a viral or bacterial infection and usually lasts up to 3 weeks. It is most common in autumn and winter. Chronic bronchitis is caused by smoking or exposure to other respiratory irritants. Typical symptoms include increased mucus production and cough.


Acute bronchitis is often infectious in origin (i.e. caused by viruses or bacteria).

Risk factors

  • Close contact to someone who has viral or bacterial bronchitis
  • Smoking
  • Weakened immune system
  • Exposure to environmental irritants
  • Acid reflux

Typical Symptoms

  • Cough
  • Feeling tired
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Chest discomfort
  • Production of mucus

Common Treatment

  • Self-care measures such as rest, keeping well hydrated and home remedies (i.e. honey and lemon)
  • Cough medicine is not recommended
  • Antibiotics are rarely needed, although it depends on your symptoms and general health

When to speak to a doctor

Bronchitis is usually self limiting and resolves within 3 weeks, however it is important to speak to a doctor if:

  • Your cough isn’t getting better
  • You have difficulty breathing
  • Your chest hurts
  • You have a persistent fever that isn’t improving
  • You have a bloody cough
  • You experience unintended weight loss

If you’re worried about your cough, you can initially discuss it via a digital consultation and if the GP decides you need a face to face appointment, they will discuss what steps you can take next.

To speak to one of our GPs, download the app and create an account today.


Bronchitis can be managed and prevented by:

  • Stopping smoking
  • Washing hands regularly
  • Vaccinations against respiratory infections (if advised)
  • Avoiding environmental irritants

More information


The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of a doctor with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never delay seeking or disregard professional medical advice because of something you have read here.