Bronchitis is an inflammation of the respiratory tubes between the throat and lungs. There are two types of Bronchitis – Acute Bronchitis and Chronic Bronchitis. Acute Bronchitis is a condition caused by viral (or, more rarely, bacterial) infection. Chronic Bronchitis is a more long term and serious condition, generally caused by exposure to smoke and advances in stages of bronchitis. The focus here will first be on Acute Bronchitis.
Acute Bronchitis Stage 1
The most significant symptom of Acute Bronchitis is a persistent cough. The earliest stage of Acute Bronchitis features a dry, non-productive cough. Non-productive is defined as not producing sputum, the mixture of saliva and mucus which can be coughed up from the respiratory system in some cases.
Other symptoms of Acute Bronchitis at this stage can be cold-like symptoms such as mild headache or body aches. Some suffering from Acute Bronchitis also suffer from fatigue and/or shortness of breath.
Acute Bronchitis Stage 2
As the infection spreads into the lower parts of the respiratory tract, the cough generally becomes productive, meaning that sputum is now being produced during the coughing. The color of the sputum will usually be an indicator as to whether this instance of Acute Bronchitis is viral or bacterial in nature.
If the sputum produced by the coughing is clear or white, this is characteristic of a viral infection. If the sputum is either green or a yellowish gray, this is usually characteristic of a bacterial infection.
Acute Bronchitis Stage 3
A few days after the cough becomes productive in stage 2, a person suffering from Acute Bronchitis will usually be rid of the active virus or bacterial infection, assuming proper treatment. Stage 3 is the aftermath of the infection. Despite not being actively infected with the virus or bacteria, a person will continue to cough for several more weeks. The cough during stage 3 is due to the damage done to the respiratory tubes during the course of the previous infection.
All in all, stages 1 and 2 tend to last for somewhere in the vicinity of a week to 12 days, and stage 3 will linger for a few weeks after that.
Chronic Bronchitis also has a series of stages associated with it. However, these stages deal more with quality of life of the sufferer than the symptoms themselves. Chronic Bronchitis is one of the underlying conditions associated with COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Both Chronic Bronchitis and COPD can range in intensity from something manageable on a day to day basis to fatal to someone suffering from them. The stages of Chronic Bronchitis are as follows:
Chronic Bronchitis Stage 1
Stage 1 of Chronic Bronchitis is characterized as the respiratory system operating at about 80% of normal capacity. A normal life expectancy would be projected.
Chronic Bronchitis Stage 2
Stage 2 of Chronic Bronchitis is characterized as the respiratory system operating at between 50% to 75% of normal capacity. Some day to day functions may be impaired.
Chronic Bronchitis Stage 3
Stage 3 of Chronic Bronchitis is characterized as the respiratory system operating at between 35% and 45% of normal capacity. At this point, moderate to severe impairment results, and medical treatment is essential to preserve the sufferer’s well being.
Chronic Bronchitis Stage 4
Stage 4 of Chronic Bronchitis is characterized as the respiratory system operating below 35% of normal capacity. At this stage, a sufferer is also dealing with low blood oxygen levels, and even with intensive treatment, time is limited for this person’s life.