5 Ways to Tell If a Cough Is Bronchitis

Bronchitis is an illness that occurs when the lining of the airways become inflamed. Bronchitis can make it difficult for kids to breathe and can cause other symptoms, like fatigue. Bronchitis is usually not serious, but is slightly more severe than a cold. The most common symptom is a cough that won’t quit. If bronchitis doesn’t go away, it may turn into a serious illness like pneumonia, so it is good to know whether a cough is bronchitis or not.

Wheezing Accompanies the Cough


If your child’s cough is accompanied by wheezing, it is most likely bronchitis. The inflammation that characterizes bronchitis causes the airways to narrow, so air whistles as it enters the lungs. This can cause wheezing or rattling sounds.

Chest Pain is Present

chest pain

If your child complains of chest pain, it may be a sign of bronchitis. If you ask them what it feels like, they may say that it feels tight and achy. They may also say that they can’t catch their breath, or that it hurts to breathe too deeply.

The Cough Follows a Cold


Bronchitis is often brought on by a cold or the flu. The condition generally develops a few days after the cold or flu has passed and starts out as a dry cough that turns into a deeper, wet cough. Bronchitis increases mucus production, so coughs are usually productive.

The Cough Lasts a Long time or Recurs

Little girl with the flu - isolated

Acute bronchitis may last up to three weeks, while chronic bronchitis may last a few months. Most other illnesses subside more quickly, so if a cough is hanging on, it may be bronchitis. If a cough recurs, it may be a sign of chronic bronchitis.

A Doctor Diagnoses It


A doctor may be able to diagnose bronchitis using chest x-rays and tests that check lung function. While only the symptoms of bronchitis may be treated, doctors may be able to make recommendations to help cure the illness faster.

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