Bronchitis is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Emergency Consult.

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  • Hyperemia and edema of the mucous membranes
  • Production of mucopurulent exudates
  • Impairment of the productive function of the cilia, lymphatics, and phagocytes
  • Airway obstruction from:
    • Edema
    • Secretions
    • Bronchial muscle spasm


  • Viral infections are the primary cause of bronchitis:
    • Parainfluenza
    • Influenza A and B
    • Respiratory syncytial virus
    • Human metapneumovirus
    • Echovirus
    • Coronavirus
    • Adenovirus
    • Coxsackievirus
    • Rhinovirus
    • Measles and herpes viruses (can cause severe viral bronchitis)
  • Particularly severe or long-lasting bronchitis:
    • Mycoplasma pneumoniae
    • Chlamydia pneumoniae
    • Bordetella pertussis:
      • Rates of pertussis are increasing, even in the fully immunized population (little protection remains after 10 yr).
  • Other bacteria have not been conclusively proven to cause bronchitis except in those with chronic lung disease.

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