Bronchitis is inflammation of the main airways of the lungs (lower respiratory tract).


Bronchitis is inflammation of the main airways of the lungs (lower respiratory tract). Coughing up small amounts of white phlegm (sputum) is typical. It often occurs in connection with or after a cold, primarily in spring and in autumn. It usually heals without complications within ten days.


Main symptoms

  • Coughing, for up to 6 weeks
  • Slimy, viscous and white phlegm (often difficult to cough up)

Other symptoms

  • Fever
  • Sniffles
  • Headache and painful limbs
  • Yellow phlegm indicates a secondary bacterial infection
  • Short-term, blood-streaked phlegm is normal for heavy coughing

Causes and treatment


Bronchitis is one of the most common diseases and occurs in the context of colds and flu.

  • Viral infections
  • Rarely accompanied by a secondary bacterial infection ("superinfection")
  • Smoking
  • Cold
  • Lung diseases (asthma, pulmonary emphysema, COPD)


  • Persistent bronchitis can lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Listening to the lungs (with a stethoscope)
  • Blood test (inflammatory markers, search for bacteria)
  • Sputum analysis (search for pathogens)
  • Lung x-ray (to exclude pneumonia, among other things)
Possible therapies
  • Inhaled medication
  • Cough suppressants only for unbearable coughing (coughing up the phlegm helps with the healing process)
  • Antibiotics (for bacteria)

What can I do myself?

  • Rest and drink a lot of fluids
  • Inhalations loosen the phlegm and make it easier to cough it up
  • Potato poultices, honey or cough drops
  • Stop smoking

When to see a doctor?


COPD, potato poultice, Bronchitis

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