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A 46-year-old female asked:

Is bronchitis bacterial or viral?

2 doctor answers4 doctors weighed in
Dr. Scott Diede
A Verified Doctoranswered
30 years experience
Usually viral: Acute bronchitis is usually caused by viruses, typically the same viruses that cause colds and influenza. The most common cause of chronic bronchitis is smoking cigarettes. Air pollution and dust or toxic gases in the environment or workplace also can contribute to the condition. Antibiotics as a whole are overprescribed in bronchitis, though sometimes it is warranted.
Dr. Robert Binford
Thoracic Surgery 39 years experience
Can be both: Bronchitis can be either acute or chronic. Chronic bronchitis is often caused by chronic irritants like tobacco smoke. Acute bronchitis is most often caused by a viral infection but about 10% of the time it can be caused by a bacterial infection.

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Similar questions

A 45-year-old member asked:

Bacterial or viral bronchitis, how can I tell?

1 doctor answer1 doctor weighed in
Dr. Sue Ferranti
Internal Medicine 30 years experience
Severity....: Typically, a bacterial bronchitis will give you a higher fever, discolored sputum, malaise, etc. The symptoms with a viral infection tend to be less severe without a fever, clearer sputum, etc. However, there is overlap in symptoms so if you are not sure, you should see your doctor so the infection can be diagnosed and treated. Both can produce a significant and severe cough.
A 34-year-old member asked:

How can doctors tell if you have viral or bacterial bronchitis?

2 doctor answers2 doctors weighed in
Dr. Sue Ferranti
Internal Medicine 30 years experience
Evaluation...: The symptoms of bacterial bronchitis are usually a bit more severe as in higher fever, more severe cough, more body aches, etc but there is overlap. When in doubt, a sputum culture can be useful. Also, viral bronchitis will usually begin resolving in a few days without treatment so if you are feeling better in a few days w/o antibiotics, chances are it is viral and antibiotics will be ineffective.
A 37-year-old member asked:

How do doctors know if you have viral or bacterial bronchitis?

1 doctor answer2 doctors weighed in
Dr. Sue Ferranti
Internal Medicine 30 years experience
Severity of sxs : Both viral and bacterial bronchitis have similar symptoms but bacterial bronchitis usually has a higher fever, more congestion, etc but there is considerable overlap. Sometimes a sputum culture can be helpful in indentifying which bacteria are present. If there is only a low grade fever, it is usually viral.
Salt Lake City, UT
A 34-year-old female asked:

How do you know difference between bacterial or viral bronchitis?

2 doctor answers2 doctors weighed in
Dr. Donald Colantino
Internal Medicine 62 years experience
Bronchitis: Viral upper respiratory tract infections usually run their course in 7to10 days. If symptoms of bronchitis (coughing up discolored sputum with or without wheezing), persist longer than that,then one can presume bacterial bronchitis and antibiotics are then often prescribed to hasten resolution.

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Last updated Apr 21, 2020
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