1. Persistent cough with mucus
Cough that persists for more than 10 days and produces clear mucus (slimy yellow-green substance) is one of the main symptoms of bronchitis. In acute bronchitis, it may be a dry cough for a few days and later bring up mucus. The infection usually lasts for about 10 days but cough may prolong up to 30 days. A patient can be diagnosed with chronic bronchitis if he/she has a persistent cough with mucus for more than three months.
2. Chest pain and discomfort
A heavy or tight sensation accompanied by a dull pain in the chest can be a possible symptom of bronchitis. The pain usually increases with deep breathing or coughing. The patient might feel heavy or have a burning sensation in the chest for most of the day, which can also cause troubled sleeping.
3. Shortness of breath
Bronchi are formed as the lower trachea divides into two tubes which lead into the lungs. Bronchitis causes inflammation in these breathing tubes narrowing them and further increasing the resistance which makes it difficult for the patient to inhale oxygen. Hence, the patient may experience difficulty in breathing and shortness of breath, especially with physical exertion.
Wheezing can be defined as a whistling sound during breathing. It is usually a high pitched sound which occurs due to air flowing through narrowed bronchi (breathing tubes). This is one of the most common symptoms in patients suffering from bronchitis.
5. Mild fever
Bronchitis is usually accompanied by a mild fever which is usually below 101°F. Pneumonia can also cause bronchitis and fever higher than 101°F may indicate pneumonia. Pneumonia and bronchitis are two different types of disorders. Though pneumonia and bronchitis can be present together in a patient, bronchitis in any way cannot be the cause of pneumonia.
Bronchitis leads to shortness of breath and physical exertion can further worsen it. Patients with bronchitis usually experience a general tiredness and body fatigue which can devoid them of any kind of physical exertion.
7. Sore throat, vomiting and diarrhea
Acute bronchitis commonly occurs while the patient is already suffering from a common cold or flu. Sore throat occurs because of the inflammation of the bronchi leading to a resistance while breathing. Vomiting and diarrhea are very common symptoms of cold or flu which may or may not indicate bronchitis.
8. Frequent respiratory infections
Patients usually diagnosed with chronic bronchitis suffer from a prolonged infection accompanied by a persistent cough with mucus. Patients with chronic bronchitis are likely to experience reoccurring respiratory infections including cold, cough and common flu. Even minor exposure to tobacco through smoking, dust and pollution can cause an infection.
Chronic bronchitis may also lead to mild or severe swelling in the leg and ankle region. There might be a visible swelling in the feet region too. Swelling is likely to occur with prolonged infection and, therefore, is not an early symptom.
Cyanosis is the blue discoloration of the lips which is caused by the lack of adequate oxygen in the blood. Chronic bronchitis leads to high levels of inflammation in the breathing tubes narrowing them down to such an extent which may lead to low levels of oxygen in blood.
11. Smoker's cough
Either type of bronchitis leads to a persistent cough. Patients with acute bronchitis may have a dry cough or with low amounts of mucus, but in chronic bronchitis, coughing produces large amount of mucus. This type of cough is termed as smoker’s cough as smoking is the major cause of chronic bronchitis.