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Medical professional standing with stethoscope


A cold that turns into a nasty cough may signal the start of a bout of bronchitis. It can lead to a miserable winter unless it is diagnosed and treated promptly.

What is Bronchitis?

Bronchitis is the irritation and inflammation of the tubes going into your lungs.  It is usually caused by an infection which stimulates the tubes to make more mucus. Your body naturally coughs to shift the build up of mucus.

What are the symptoms of Bronchitis?

The main symptoms is a hacking cough which may produce phelgm of varying colours from clear to yellow to green.  Breathlessness and noisy breathing or wheeze may also occur. Infective symptoms similar to a cold may also be present like a runny nose or sore throat.

Stethoscope on desk with paper and pen

Do I need to see a Doctor?

Most cases of Bronchitis settle down over a few weeks and do not require a trip to the doctor.  However if symptoms are lasting more than 3 weeks or you have a temperature for more than 3 days, then a more serious condition may be responsible including pneumonia.  Persisting symptoms may also be a sign of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) which is usually smoking related but may also be linked to environmental factors.

What treatment may help?

A doctor may suggest antibiotics or inhaler therapy or even steroid tablets depending on the severity of your illness.   You may need lung function tests to look for underlying illnesses such as COPD.


The New Victoria Hospital
184 Coombe Lane West
Kingston Upon Thames
Surrey KT2 7EG