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Bronchitis is an inflammation of the main air passages to the lungs. Bronchitis may be sudden and temporary (acute) or long-lasting and recurring (chronic). To be classified as chronic, you must have a cough with mucus most days of the month for three months out of the year.
Acute bronchitis usually occurs after a viral respiratory infection. Initially, it affects your nose, sinuses, and throat and then spreads to the large bronchial airway passages. Chronic bronchitis is a long-term condition of excessive mucus with a productive cough. This ongoing condition is inflammation but not infection. It blocks air flow in and out of the lungs. Cigarette smoke is the main cause of chronic bronchitis, including long-term exposure to second-hand smoke. It can be agggravated by certain factors, such as air pollution, infection, or allergies.