Acute bronchitis most commonly occurs after an upper respiratory infection such as the common cold or a sinus infection. You may see symptoms such as fever with chills, muscle aches, nasal congestion, and sore throat.
Cough is a common symptom of bronchitis. The cough may be dry or may produce phlegm. Significant phlegm production suggests that the lower respiratory tract and the lung itself may be infected, and you may have pneumonia.
The cough may last for more than two weeks. Continued forceful coughing may make your chest and abdominal muscles sore. Coughing can be severe enough at times to injure the chest wall or even cause you to pass out.
Wheezing may occur because of the inflammation of the airways. This may leave you short of breath.
Several viruses cause bronchitis, including influenza A and B, commonly referred to as "the flu."
A number of bacteria are also known to cause bronchitis, such as Mycoplasma pneumoniae, which causes so-called walking pneumonia.
Bronchitis also can occur when you inhale irritating fumes or dusts. Chemical solvents and smoke, including tobacco smoke, have been linked to acute bronchitis.
People at increased risk both of getting bronchitis and of having more severe symptoms include the elderly, those with weakened immune systems, smokers, and anyone with repeated exposure to lung irritants.