What causes bronchitis?

A bad cold can cause a brief attack of bronchitis. Acid reflux (also know as gastroesophageal reflux disease), which is when stomach acid backs up into your food pipe, is another cause. Reflux can irritate the airways, leading to bronchitis. Air pollution, dusts, or fumes can also cause irritation leading to bronchitis. Second-hand smoke can cause bronchitis. In all of these cases, the bronchitis clears up when the irritant is removed.

Sometimes, however, if the bronchitis is allowed to go on too long, it becomes chronic. The airways, or bronchial tubes become permanently damaged. Though cigarette smoking is the most common cause of chronic bronchitis, some people may have developed chronic bronchitis because their bronchial tubes had been weakened by previous infections.

To learn more:

Bronchitis: Causes
Provides an explanation of the different causes of bronchitis.
(American Lung Association)
An excellent overview of chronic bronchitis and its causes.

next » What are the signs and symptoms of bronchitis?

Written by: Lillian Trettin, Ph.D.
Reviewed by: Jeffrey G. Schultze, M.D.
Last Modified: Thursday October 31, 2019 10:01 AM