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Bronchitis vs. Acute Bronchitis: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 21, 2023
Bronchitis is inflammation of the bronchial tubes, while acute bronchitis refers specifically to a short-term, often infection-caused, inflammation of the same tubes.

Key Differences

Bronchitis is a medical condition characterized by the inflammation of the bronchial tubes that carry air to the lungs. This inflammation can lead to coughing, shortness of breath, and production of mucus. It can be caused by various factors, including infections, environmental irritants, and underlying chronic respiratory diseases. On the other hand, acute bronchitis specifically refers to a sudden onset of inflammation in the bronchial tubes, often due to a viral or bacterial infection.
Acute bronchitis is a subtype of bronchitis that typically lasts for a few weeks. Symptoms of acute bronchitis can be similar to those of a common cold and may include cough, slight fever, fatigue, and chest discomfort. The main distinguishing factor between bronchitis and acute bronchitis is the duration and cause of the condition. While acute bronchitis is usually caused by an infection and is short-lived, bronchitis as a broader term can be short-lived (acute) or long-lasting (chronic).
Chronic bronchitis, another subtype of bronchitis, is characterized by a long-term cough with mucus production. It can result from prolonged exposure to irritants like cigarette smoke, pollution, or dust. In comparison, acute bronchitis usually resolves on its own with proper rest and care, and it doesn't have the long-lasting implications that chronic bronchitis can have.
In conclusion, while bronchitis serves as a general term for inflammation of the bronchial tubes, acute bronchitis specifically denotes a short-term, often infectious, onset of this inflammation. Recognizing the difference is vital for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Comparison Chart


Can be short-term or long-term
Typically short-term (few weeks)


Infections, irritants, chronic conditions
Primarily viral or bacterial infections


Inflammation of bronchial tubes
Short-term inflammation of bronchial tubes due to infections


Cough, mucus, possible fever
Cough, slight fever, fatigue, chest discomfort

Relation to Chronic Type

Can be either acute or chronic bronchitis
Is a form of bronchitis but not chronic

Bronchitis and Acute Bronchitis Definitions


A respiratory condition marked by cough and mucus production.
Prolonged exposure to air pollutants can lead to bronchitis.

Acute Bronchitis

A brief episode of bronchial tube inflammation.
Acute bronchitis symptoms are similar to those of a cold.


A disease affecting the air passages to the lungs.
The doctor diagnosed him with bronchitis after hearing his persistent cough.

Acute Bronchitis

A sudden respiratory condition often caused by infections.
The doctor prescribed rest and hydration for his acute bronchitis.


A lung condition with inflamed bronchi leading to breathing difficulties.
Wearing a mask in polluted areas can help prevent bronchitis.

Acute Bronchitis

A short-term inflammation of the bronchial tubes.
After the flu, she developed acute bronchitis.


An ailment where the bronchi become inflamed.
Cold weather often exacerbates her bronchitis symptoms.

Acute Bronchitis

A temporary lung ailment usually due to viral or bacterial agents.
He caught acute bronchitis during the winter months.


An inflammation of the bronchial tubes.
Smoking can increase the risk of developing bronchitis.

Acute Bronchitis

A respiratory disorder marked by a short-lived cough and mucus.
After a week of rest, her acute bronchitis began to improve.


Chronic or acute inflammation of the mucous membrane of the bronchial tubes.


(uncountable) An inflammation of the bronchi of the lungs, that causes the cilia of the bronchial epithelial cells to stop functioning.


(countable) An occurrence of, a case (patient) of, or a type of bronchitis.


Inflammation, acute or chronic, of the bronchial tubes or any part of them.


Inflammation of the membranes lining the bronchial tubes


How does acute bronchitis differ from bronchitis?

Acute bronchitis is a short-term form of bronchitis, often caused by infections.

Can smoking cause bronchitis?

Yes, smoking is a major risk factor for bronchitis.

What is bronchitis?

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes.

What causes acute bronchitis?

Acute bronchitis is commonly caused by viral or bacterial infections.

Are there other forms of bronchitis besides acute?

Yes, chronic bronchitis is a long-term form of bronchitis.

Is bronchitis contagious?

If caused by an infectious agent, bronchitis can be contagious.

What are common symptoms of bronchitis?

Symptoms include coughing, mucus production, and potential fever.

Can you get acute bronchitis more than once?

Yes, individuals can experience multiple episodes of acute bronchitis.

Can acute bronchitis turn into pneumonia?

In some cases, untreated acute bronchitis can lead to pneumonia.

Is chronic bronchitis a form of COPD?

Yes, chronic bronchitis is one of the main types of COPD.

How is chronic bronchitis different from acute bronchitis?

Chronic bronchitis lasts longer and is often due to long-term irritant exposure.

Can children get acute bronchitis?

Yes, children can develop acute bronchitis, especially after colds.

Are there home remedies for bronchitis?

While medical treatment is primary, humidifiers and warm fluids can help alleviate symptoms.

How is acute bronchitis treated?

Rest, hydration, and in some cases, medications.

How long does acute bronchitis last?

Acute bronchitis typically lasts a few weeks.

Is bronchitis more common in winter?

Yes, bronchitis cases tend to increase during colder months.

How can one prevent bronchitis?

Avoiding smoking, getting vaccinated, and staying away from irritants can help.

What's the main symptom of acute bronchitis?

A persistent cough is the hallmark symptom.

Can bronchitis cause wheezing?

Yes, some people with bronchitis may experience wheezing.

Is acute bronchitis serious?

While often self-limiting, complications can arise if untreated.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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