A cold or the flu runs its course in a couple weeks, if you’re lucky. After that, you’re back to normal. But sometimes you may get bronchitis, too.

That’s when your bronchial tubes, which carry air to your lungs, get infected and swollen. You end up with a nagging cough and a lot more mucus.

You can get bronchitis in other ways, too, and there are actually two types of it:

Acute bronchitis: This is the more common one. Symptoms last for a few weeks, but it doesn’t usually cause any problems past that.

Chronic bronchitis: This one is more serious, in that it keeps coming back or doesn’t go away at all. It’s one of the conditions that makes up what’s called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

What Are the Symptoms?

You’ll definitely have a cough, and you may have various problems with breathing, such as:

  • Chest congestion, where your chest feels full or clogged
  • A cough that may bring up a lot of mucus that’s clear, white, yellow, or green
  • Shortness of breath
  • A wheezing or a whistling sound when you breathe

When Should I Call My Doctor?

Call your doctor if your cough:

  • Brings up blood or mucus that thickens or darkens
  • Keeps you awake at night
  • Lasts more than 3 weeks
  • Causes chest pain
  • Has a barking sound and makes it hard to speak
  • Comes along with unexplained weight loss

You’ll also want to call your doctor if you have a cough and you have:

  • A foul-tasting fluid in your mouth (could be reflux)
  • Fever over 100.4 F
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath

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