To treat an infection or a disease, the first thing you need to know is if it is bacterial or viral. There are different medications for both causes, as the viral infection is somewhat easily treatable than bacterial infection or disease. Same is the case with bronchitis. If you want to treat the disease, the first question you need to answer is, “is bronchitis viral or bacterial?”

Let’s explore the answer to this question, and discuss those diseases in detail in this article.

 Is Bronchitis Viral or Bacterial?

Before answering this question, you have to learn about the types of bronchitis, as both have different causes. Acute bronchitis is temporary and short-term and can be treated easily, while chronic bronchitis is a relatively long-term and need serious treatment.

The most common type of bronchitis is acute, and it can be both viral and bacterial. So the correct answer to the question, “is bronchitis viral or bacterial?” is both.


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There are different symptoms of both types but mostly developed before or after cold or due to upper respiratory infections.

  • Bacterial Bronchitis

It is little more serious than viral bronchitis. You will feel very sick in case of bacterial bronchitis. It may cause very high fever, severe cough with thick and dark mucus from lungs.

The viral disease is not as severe as bacterial and same is the case with bronchitis. If you are suffering from viral bronchitis, you will feel mild sickness, cough with little or no mucus, and may have a mild fever for one or two days. In some cases, when people suffer from both bronchitis and flu, they feel very sick and may need a doctor’s appointment.

Bronchitis is basically an inflammation of bronchial tubes, and this inflammation can be caused due to bacteria or virus. As inflammation of bronchial tubes resulted in less space for air to pass to your lungs from your mouth and nose and vice versa, you will find difficult to breathe.

In most cases, bacteria and virus is a common cause of acute bronchitis, but smoking and other irritating particles can be the cause of chronic bronchitis, which is the most severe form of this disease. So, if it is caused due to cold and with a change of weather, it may be an acute form caused by virus or bacteria, but if the place you are living in is polluted or if you are exposed to air pollution, dust, fumes, vapors or smoke, the disease can be chronic.

In addition, it is not necessary that bronchitis will be caused by only viruses and bacteria, but it can be caused by any foreign particles that can damage your bronchial tubes. This is why smoking is one of the common causes of bronchitis, as the smoke and other particles in the tobacco smoke can inflame the tubes.

How Would You Know if You are Suffering from Bronchitis?

Most people confuse bronchitis with flu, but these two are not the same. Here are some signs that can tell you if you are suffering from bronchitis.

First, you will experience a persistent cough that produces a lot of mucus, which is not common with flu. If a cough is producing mucus, or if a cough is very persistent, this is probably bronchitis, not flu.

Other symptoms include wheezing, chest tightening, low fever (in case of viral bronchitis) or high fever (in case of bacterial bronchitis), body aches, chills, headaches, breathlessness, and blocked noses and sinuses.

As you can see, the symptoms are almost same as of flu, but if you are suffering from a consistent cough that also produces thick mucus, then you are most probably suffering from bronchitis or a combination of flu and bronchitis.

What are the Common Diagnosis Methods?

As mentioned earlier, cough is the main symptom of bronchitis, so the doctors will also ask if you have suffered from cold or flu recently, or if you smoke, or are exposed to air pollution, etc.

Doctors also use a stethoscope to listen to the sounds in the lungs. In case you feel very sick, your doctors will ask for an x-ray, blood testing, and lung function testing, to check if you are suffering from bronchitis, or how severe the disease has damaged your bronchial tubes.

In most cases, viruses are the major reason for this disease, followed by bacteria, especially for acute bronchitis. This is why, most doctors don’t prefer antibiotics while treating this disease, but if the diseases persist, doctors might switch to antibiotics as well.


The treatment for both viral and bacterial bronchitis is simple and does not involve a lot of medicines. Especially if you are suffering from viral bronchitis, you can also treat your disease at home. You can also use over-the-counter cough suppressants.

If you are also suffering from headaches or body aches, you may use painkillers along with cough suppressants. Breathing warm and moist air, along with drinking hot tea, water, and resting for a couple of days can help a lot.

Simply put, symptoms of acute bronchitis, both viral and bacterial can go away in two to four days with rest, home remedies, and OTC medicines; but unfortunately, chronic bronchitis is not easy to treat. If someone has seriously damaged the bronchial tubes, it is often incurable as well.

This is why it is important to see your doctor as soon as possible if you smoke and suffer from a cough for more than a week.

Is Bronchitis Viral or Bacterial: Conclusion

As we have discussed earlier, the answer is, it is both viral and bacterial. The good thing is, in most cases for healthy individuals, the disease is treatable at home. Just drink a lot of water, rest for a couple of days, have some hot ginger or green tea, and you are expected to be all set in next two to four days.

But if you are feeling really sick or also have other respiratory problems, it is recommended to contact a doctor.