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Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the
Harvard Medical School

Expected Duration

Most cases of acute bronchitis go away without treatment within five days, although coughing usually lasts seven to 10 days. In some cases, coughing continues for weeks or even months after the infection is gone because the bronchial linings are still irritated and may become narrow, as in asthma. Inhalers can help to treat the cough in these cases. When bronchitis comes back frequently or occurs most days of a month for at least three months of a year for two years, it is called chronic bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis occurs most often in current and former smokers.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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