Bronchitis In Adults - Causes, Symptoms, Meaning Of Sputum Color In Bronchitis

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Video: Bronchitis In Adults - Causes, Symptoms, Meaning Of Sputum Color In Bronchitis

Video: Bronchitis In Adults - Causes, Symptoms, Meaning Of Sputum Color In Bronchitis
Video: Bronchitis: Consequences, Symptoms & Treatment – Respiratory Medicine | Lecturio 2023, December
Bronchitis In Adults - Causes, Symptoms, Meaning Of Sputum Color In Bronchitis
Bronchitis In Adults - Causes, Symptoms, Meaning Of Sputum Color In Bronchitis

Causes and symptoms of bronchitis

Bronchitis is an inflammatory condition. This inflammation affects the mucous membrane of the lungs and bronchial tree. There are two types of bronchitis: acute and chronic. The symptoms of acute bronchitis last from a few days to three to four weeks. Such symptoms are typical for all acute respiratory infections that pass with damage to the bronchial tree. The symptom of chronic bronchitis is a persistent cough. The reason for the development of this type of bronchitis is prolonged smoking and respiratory tract damage.

All diseases of our body are caused by pollution of the gastrointestinal tract. So, chronic bronchitis, no matter how surprised many people are, is also to some extent associated with this.

It is often believed that people over 50 years of age suffer most from bronchitis, but this is not entirely true. Of course, age plays a role, but people who are exposed to harmful environmental conditions, with poor ecology, with poor nutrition, with hypothermia, and poor living conditions are more likely to get bronchitis. And also people with low body weight. Both men and women are ill equally. Chronic bronchitis is most often fatal. The reasons for this outcome are the rapid development of pulmonary heart failure and pathological expansion of air spaces.


  • Bronchitis symptoms
  • Causes of bronchitis
  • The meaning of sputum color in bronchitis
  • Complications of acute and chronic bronchitis
  • Frequently asked questions:
  • Treatment methods
  • Prevention of bronchitis in adults
  • Which doctor should I contact for bronchitis?

Bronchitis symptoms

Bronchitis symptoms
Bronchitis symptoms

Symptoms are characteristic external manifestations and signs of a disease that warn of disorders in the human body. Many people do not pay enough attention to the symptoms of diseases, but diseases can be life-threatening.

There are three types of bronchitis in children:

  • acute simple.
  • acute obstructive.
  • acute bronchiolitis (occurs in infants and infants, affects the small bronchi).

Adults get sick more often than children. There are two forms of the disease in adults:

  • acute form.
  • chronic form.

Such a disease is quite common, every person has had bronchitis at least once in his life and therefore his symptoms are well known and quickly recognizable. If there is a cough, runny nose, headache - these are the first symptomatic manifestations of the disease. Bronchitis can be easily confused with the flu or cold because the symptoms are very similar.

Turning to a doctor, you can be sure of the exact diagnosis of the patient's complaints. Often the main symptom of bronchitis is annoying and persistent coughing. Chronic bronchitis develops in people working in hazardous industries due to smoking and exposure to environmental conditions. But mostly acute bronchitis in adults occurs when an infection enters the body.

The duration of an acute illness can last for several days or weeks. The disease in an acute form is accompanied by a dry cough, fever up to 39C, a runny nose. Although a cough is a symptom of the disease, it is a protective function of the body that allows mucus to be removed from the respiratory tract. Sputum in children may be greenish or yellowish-gray, indicating a bacterial infection.

A white mass of mucus secreted means no mucus. The body benefits from a wet cough, allowing the patient to get rid of the accumulated mucus for several days. The examination can reveal characteristic wheezing arising from the resulting mucus mass in the respiratory organs. Final recovery from acute bronchitis occurs in 10 days.

If you do not complete the treatment of the patient, then there is a high probability of the transition of an acute form to a chronic one. And then the malaise can drag on for an indefinite time. In the case of a chronic course of bronchitis in adults or children, the cough is present for several months, wheezing of a hissing character appears.

Sometimes the cough is accompanied by hemoptysis. It is imperative to ensure that the dry cough becomes moist and the phlegm leaves. In infants, the symptoms of bronchitis at the beginning of the inflammatory process are frequent, dry, exhausting, without sputum discharge. Dyspnea becomes pronounced, whistling noisy wheezing is noticeable when listening (auscultation), high temperature. When neglected, chronic bronchitis turns into purulent.

Together with the fluid, pus leaves the bronchi. Purulent bronchitis can occur due to a weakened immune system. Cough with sputum with impurities of pus, shortness of breath, pain in the sternal region, high fever, weakness, increased sweating, headache - symptoms of purulent bronchitis, which can develop into pneumonia.

The symptoms of bronchitis also largely depend on the type of disease and the nature of the course of the disease.

Symptoms of Infectious Bronchitis

If a person has mild infectious bronchitis, then it is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Dry cough, which, as the disease progresses, will turn into a wet one;
  • A feeling of weakness, increased fatigue;
  • Feeling of discomfort in the chest area;
  • Increased body temperature (sometimes to subfebrile levels, sometimes much higher);
  • Harsh breathing and wheezing are heard;
  • Laboratory blood tests do not detect infection.

When infectious bronchitis is of moderate severity, the sick person experiences the following symptoms:

  • He is tormented by a strong cough, which, due to muscle strain, causes pain in the chest and abdomen;
  • The person experiences a feeling of weakness and general malaise;
  • Breathing becomes difficult;
  • During coughing, sputum is separated with impurities of pus, or it becomes completely purulent;
  • When listening, rales are wet, finely bubbling and dry, breathing is hard.

If the patient has allergic bronchitis, then it will occur through direct contact with the allergen. It can be indoor dust, plant pollen, perfume odors, household chemicals, animal hair, bird fluff, etc. With an allergic type of disease, sputum is never purulent, and the body temperature does not rise. As a rule, all symptoms disappear after contact with the allergen stops.

Allergic bronchitis symptoms

allergic bronchitis
allergic bronchitis

The following symptoms can be used to distinguish the allergic type of bronchitis:

  • No increase in body temperature;
  • The appearance of dry scattered wheezing;
  • The appearance of shortness of breath, which occurs on inspiration;
  • After eliminating the provoking factor, signs of exacerbation are quickly eliminated.

If the patient has a toxic or chemical type of bronchitis, then the manifestation of the disease occurs due to the ingestion of an irritating substance into the respiratory tract. It can be acid vapors, dust (organic and inorganic), gas (carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide).

Symptoms of Toxic and Chemical Bronchitis

Symptoms of toxic-chemical bronchitis include:

  • Lack of desire to eat;
  • The appearance of headaches;
  • The onset of a painful cough;
  • The appearance of severe shortness of breath, which can lead to suffocation;
  • The appearance of pain in the chest area of a stabbing nature;
  • The appearance of signs of respiratory failure;
  • Cyanosis of the mucous membranes;
  • The appearance of hard breathing and dry wheezing;
  • The appearance of signs of hypoxemia.

Symptoms of acute bronchitis

If a person has acute bronchitis, then the following symptoms can be distinguished:

  • The appearance of a pronounced cough, which soon becomes wet from dry;
  • The body temperature rises and can reach 39 ° C;
  • Increased sweating is added to the general malaise;
  • There is a chill, performance falls;
  • Symptoms are either mild or severe;
  • While listening to the chest, the doctor hears dry wheezing and hard, absent-minded breathing;
  • If the disease is severe, then the patient has severe shortness of breath;
  • As a rule, acute illness goes away after two weeks.

Causes of bronchitis

Causes of bronchitis
Causes of bronchitis

There can be many reasons for bronchitis, but the following risk factors for bronchitis are recognized by absolutely all medical organizations:

  • smoking;
  • heredity - congenital lack of alpha-1-antitrypsin in the body;
  • unfavorable environmental conditions, namely the saturation of the atmosphere with various harmful gases, dust.

There are many other secondary causes of bronchitis, such as secondhand smoke, alcoholism, living conditions, etc.

Bronchitis develops very quickly in cases where there is permanent damage to the mucous membranes, bronchi by any particles in the air. Another reason for bronchitis is the climate, which is not very favorable for humans, namely: constant dampness, frequent changes in weather conditions, fogs.

When the mucous membranes and bronchi are constantly damaged by some kind of smoke, dust, and other particles, this is a kind of "push" to a constant increase in sputum production, which means that there is a need to cough often in order to eliminate sputum from the respiratory tract of a patient with bronchitis. Smoking is the number 1 cause of bronchitis, since statistics say that smokers, regardless of gender, suffer from chronic bronchitis 3-4 times more often than those who are free from this bad habit. Although, perhaps no less harm than smoking, work in hazardous industries brings: workers of woolen, chemical, bakery factories are also susceptible to bronchitis.

The importance of infection in the development of bronchitis

Chronic bronchitis progresses faster if there are foci of infection and microbes in the bronchi for a long time. For example, bronchitis is aggravated by chronic tonsillitis, as well as delayed blood flow in the pulmonary circulation. (read also: What is tonsillitis? Causes and symptoms of the disease)

If a person has ever had bouts of acute bronchitis, then they have an increased chance of developing chronic bronchitis.

If, during bronchitis, an infectious infection joins it, then the situation in this case is far from the best, since the infection further increases the volume of mucus secreting, moreover, this liquid begins to resemble pus in composition.

Exacerbations of chronic bronchitis quite often pass with the direct participation of staphylococci, pneumococci, streptococci and infections - both mycoplasmous and viral. Most people in the winter, cold period of the year get an infection of the bronchi, windpipe - that is, the upper respiratory tract. And in patients with chronic bronchitis, the penetration of harmful bacteria is deeper, they pass down to the lungs, therefore, in winter, patients with bronchitis often experience sharp exacerbations. A viral disease such as influenza also aggravates the course of bronchitis, therefore, during epidemics of influenza, very frequent attacks of acute bronchitis are recorded.

The meaning of sputum color in bronchitis

The meaning of sputum color
The meaning of sputum color

The color of the sputum discharge when coughing is of great diagnostic value for the doctor. Thanks only to this sign, the doctor can determine the stage of the disease, the degree of its severity, the cause of its occurrence. The sputum contains saliva, which is produced in the mouth, cells produced by the immune system, blood and plasma particles (visible or invisible), dust, pathogenic microorganisms.

White phlegm

When the color of the sputum is white, then the patient's condition is regarded as a normal course of the disease. Nevertheless, it is worth paying attention to the amount of sputum separated, the presence of foam in it. So, with foamy abundant white sputum, pulmonary edema, tuberculosis or asthma can be suspected.

Green phlegm

If the sputum is green for a long time, then this indicates an existing infection of a chronic nature. This color is the result of the disintegration process of neutrophils, which were trying to cope with pathogenic agents. Their death leads to the release of enzymes and myeloperoxidase.

Therefore, green sputum can indicate the following diseases:

  • Chronical bronchitis;
  • Lung abscess;
  • Transition of bronchitis to pneumonia;
  • Lung cystic fibrosis.

If the disease is infectious, then a green tint of sputum can also indicate the presence of a large amount of pus in the sputum. If the disease is of non-infectious etiology, then there will be more mucus in the sputum than greenery.

Yellow phlegm

If the sputum is yellow, then this indicates the presence of white blood cells in it, namely neutrophils. They are always found in large quantities in allergic, infectious and chronic inflammations.

Therefore, doctors often determine by the yellow color of the bronchial discharge:

  • Asthma;
  • Sinusitis;
  • Acute stage of pneumonia or bronchitis.

If a discharge of yellow sputum is found, you should not hesitate to go to the doctor, since its morning analysis allows you to determine the presence of a bacterial infection. Often this sputum is separated from long-term smokers.

Brown phlegm

Brown sputum is a serious symptom that requires medical attention. A similar color of mucus indicates the breakdown of a large number of red blood cells and the release of hemosiderin.

By the brown color of the sputum, one can suspect:

  • Chronic bronchitis or pneumonia;
  • Tuberculosis;
  • Lungs' cancer;
  • Pneumoconiosis.

Black (dark gray)

If a patient has black or dark gray sputum, then most often this indicates the presence of dust from tobacco smoking in it. Also, blackening of sputum can be observed when taking certain medications.

Red sputum (with blood)

The presence of blood in sputum may indicate serious infections, or open pulmonary bleeding:

  • Pneumococcal infection;
  • Lungs' cancer;
  • Tuberculosis;
  • Pulmonary embolism.

Seeking medical help should be immediate, since there is a threat not only to health, but also to the patient's life.

Complications of acute and chronic bronchitis

Complications of bronchitis
Complications of bronchitis

All complications of acute bronchitis are associated with a deterioration in the process of bronchial drainage. This encourages the infected mucus to aspirate into the distal bronchial tree and inflame the lung tissue. Therefore, bronchopneumonia is one of the most frequent complications of acute bronchitis. It develops against the background of a decrease in local immune forces and as a result of the addition of a bacterial infection.

The way the acute phase of the disease is resolved depends on the depth to which the bronchial wall is affected. Serous and mucous catarrh is easily restored, and purulent catarrh, bronchiolitis and destructive bronchitis lead to the development of pneumonia. The more often acute bronchitis occurs in a patient and the longer they exist, the higher the risk of chronicity of the process.

Complications of chronic bronchitis are:

  • Acute pneumonia;
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease;
  • Asthmatic bronchitis, which increases the risk of developing bronchial asthma;
  • Emphysema of the lungs;
  • Pulmonary hypertension;
  • Expiratory tracheal stenosis;
  • Chronic cor pulmonale;
  • Cardiopulmonary insufficiency;
  • Bronchiectasis.

Nevertheless, the prognosis for recovery even in chronic (but not obstructive bronchitis) is favorable if all risk factors are eliminated and qualified treatment is started.

Frequently asked questions:

  • Is bronchitis contagious to others? When the cause of inflammation of the bronchi is a viral or bacterial infection, then there is a risk of infection of surrounding healthy people from a patient with bronchitis. However, in this case, the person does not contract the bronchitis itself. He may have an underlying infectious disease, such as tonsillitis, sinusitis, etc. Bronchitis is a complication of these diseases. The transmission of infection most often occurs by airborne droplets. The contact path in this case is less relevant.
  • How many days does the temperature last with bronchitis? From the start of treatment with antibacterial drugs, a high temperature with bronchitis should last no more than 2 days. At subfebrile marks, it can remain for another 5 days. If the body temperature does not drop, then a revision of the treatment is required.
  • Can there be bronchitis without fever? Yes, this is possible. Moreover, the absence of temperature does not indicate only allergic bronchitis. It can remain normal in bronchitis, infectious bronchitis, and toxic-chemical bronchitis.
  • Can inhalation be done for bronchitis? Inhalation for bronchitis can be done. Moreover, they are the key to a speedy recovery of the patient, if they are followed according to all the rules. It is worth remembering that only inhalation with the help of a nebulizer can provide real help with bronchitis. This device allows you to deliver a medicinal substance directly to the bronchi (more: how to do inhalation for bronchitis?).
  • Can bronchitis turn into asthma? Yes, such a probability exists, and it increases with improperly treated or with frequent acute bronchitis, as well as with chronicity of the process.
  • Is it possible to put mustard plasters for bronchitis? You can put mustard plasters for bronchitis. However, the procedure must be performed at normal body temperature and in the absence of signs of systemic inflammation. Also, a contraindication is an allergy to mustard and a violation of the integrity of the skin. (in more detail: the mechanism of action of cans and mustard plasters).

Treatment methods

There are several treatment options for bronchitis:

  • Antibiotics for bronchitis
  • Expectorants for bronchitis
  • Injections for bronchitis
  • Massage for bronchitis
  • Mustard plasters for bronchitis
  • Respiratory gymnastics for bronchitis

Prevention of bronchitis in adults

Prevention of bronchitis
Prevention of bronchitis

With bronchitis, both primary and secondary prevention are indicated.

Primary prevention of the disease is reduced to the implementation of the following rules:

  • Quitting bad habits and, first of all, smoking and drinking alcohol.
  • It is necessary to avoid activities that involve the inhalation of harmful vapors (lead, aluminum, chlorides, etc.).
  • You should promptly get rid of any sources of chronic infection, such as: tonsillitis, sinusitis, folliculitis.
  • Avoid crowded places, especially during epidemics.
  • Hypothermia should be avoided.
  • It is necessary to maintain the body's natural resistance to infections. In this case, we are talking about maintaining immunity: rational nutrition, hardening, adherence to work and rest, dosing physical activity, being in the fresh air - all these are simple and effective measures to prevent any disease.
  • Seasonal flu vaccinations should not be ignored.
  • The air in the living quarters must be humidified, especially for the heated period.
  • Outdoor walks should be daily.

Secondary prophylaxis of bronchitis is necessary when the process is chronic.

This helps to reduce the number of exacerbations and prevents the development of serious complications:

  • It is important to eliminate any risks of developing the disease.
  • Diagnosis and treatment of acute bronchitis must be professional and timely.
  • During epidemics, the administration of antiviral drugs is indicated for prophylactic purposes.
  • Acceptance of antibiotic therapy should be agreed with the doctor.
  • Treatment should be comprehensive.

Which doctor should I contact for bronchitis?

When the first symptoms of the disease occur, you must contact a therapist. It is he who performs all the diagnostic measures and prescribes treatment. It is possible that the therapist will refer the patient to narrower specialists, such as: pulmonologist, infectious disease specialist, allergist.


Article author: Mochalov Pavel Alexandrovich | d. m. n. therapist

Education: Moscow Medical Institute. IM Sechenov, specialty - "General Medicine" in 1991, in 1993 "Occupational Diseases", in 1996 "Therapy".


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