24/7 medical treatment

Medgate App – Download for free

The article is for information purposes only and must not be used for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes. It is not a substitute for personal medical advice and treatment. Medgate has compiled the information carefully, but cannot guarantee the accuracy and completeness of the information. Medgate accepts no liability for any damage that may result from the use of this information. Are you ill and need help? Our doctors are available for you around the clock via the Medgate app.


Acute bronchitis is one of the most common respiratory diseases. In around 90% of cases of acute bronchitis, the bronchial tubes are inflamed due to a viral infection. The majority of bronchitis caused by viruses develops from a cold. For this reason, the upper airways - the mucous membranes in the mouth and throat, in the nose or the paranasal sinuses - are often inflamed as well as the bronchial tubes. In patients who already suffer from a lung disease, a bacterial infection can also be responsible for bronchitis.

The main symptom of acute bronchitis is a dry, irritating cough at the beginning. The cause of acute bronchitis is usually viruses; in some cases bacteria. Other triggers can be fungi, allergens, dry air, and cold or irritating substances such as cigarette smoke or fine dust. As a rule, acute bronchitis is harmless and heals without medication. Only in rare cases does acute bronchitis develop into pneumonia or chronic bronchitis.


The typical symptom of acute bronchitis is a persistent and agonising chesty cough, which is initially dry. As the disease progresses, the cough loosens and those affected cough up sparse mucus. Other symptoms that can accompany acute bronchitis are fever, aching limbs, a runny nose, hoarseness, and a general feeling of illness.

People suffering from bronchitis have often previously had an upper respiratory tract infection, such as a cold or sore throat. This infection can spread to the lower respiratory tract, resulting in acute bronchitis.


In most cases, acute bronchitis subsides after a maximum of ten days without special treatment. The cough, however, can be more persistent. Bronchitis can be more complicated in people who frequently suffer from respiratory diseases, chronic lung diseases or a weakened immune system.

If acute bronchitis lasts longer than five to ten days, it is advisable to consult a doctor. The doctor can carry out examinations and thus rule out more serious illnesses such as asthma, certain heart diseases, tuberculosis, or certain tumors.

Acute bronchitis is a short-term illness. If the cough with sputum occurs for at least three months in a row for at least two consecutive years, experts speak of chronic bronchitis. If the airways are also constricted in chronic bronchitis, the lung disease COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is present.


The most common cause of acute bronchitis is a viral infection. In adults, bronchitis is usually triggered by influenza, parainfluenza, rhinoviruses or coronaviruses. Children, on the other hand, usually fall ill due to RS, adeno, coxsackie and ECHO viruses. The viruses are transmitted by droplets or via the hands. Anyone who coughs or sneezes into their hands transmits the pathogens when shaking hands or touching objects such as door handles or poles on public transport.

In rather rare cases, acute bronchitis is caused by an infection with bacteria. These are usually secondary infections. Bacteria attack the bronchial mucosa, which has already been damaged by an acute viral infection. In the case of bacterial bronchitis acquired in the home environment, pneumococci, Haemophilus influenzae, chlamydia or Mycoplasma pneumoniae are the cause of the infection. In patients who already suffer from a lung disease, the infection may be more difficult to treat due to a different spectrum of germs: Patients with pre-existing lung disease often harbour bacteria that respond less well to antibiotics or are resistant to many antibiotics, as they are often pre-treated.

Fungi can also infect the airways in patients who already have a weakened immune system. Other triggers of bronchitis are allergens, dry air, cold or irritating substances such as cigarette smoke or fine dust. Children whose parents smoke in the home are twice as likely to suffer from acute bronchitis as children who do not smoke.


Acute bronchitis is usually diagnosed based on a detailed medical history and the typical complaints and symptoms. As a rule, this information can also be recorded by a doctor without having to examine the patient on-site. A doctor can easily diagnose acute bronchitis by telemedicine and in many cases treat it over the phone or video.

In certain cases, a doctor will examine the ears, mouth, nose and throat in depth. If bacterial acute bronchitis is suspected, further diagnostic measures such as laboratory tests or X-rays may be necessary.


Acute bronchitis usually progresses without complications. In most cases, treatment with medication is not absolutely necessary. As a rule, measures and household remedies, such as those used for a cold, are sufficient. Bacterial bronchitis is also generally treated symptomatically. Patients with existing heart and lung diseases, immunocompromised or elderly patients are treated with antibiotics. Even in these cases, general aids can alleviate the symptoms of acute bronchitis: Sufferers should take it easy, rest a lot and only engage in light physical activity. Sufferers should also drink plenty of fluids and ensure that the air in the room is moist so as not to irritate the mucous membranes further.

Warm and moist chest compresses alleviate the symptoms and often feel pleasant. Inhalations with warm steam are also recommended, as the steam makes the secretions more fluid and the mucus dissolves better. The use of essential oils should be used with caution: Their effectiveness has not been proven. In addition, the oils can intensify the strong coughing stimulus or trigger allergies. Cough and cold teas also keep the mucous membranes moisturised and thus support the healing process.

Expectorants should only be taken after consulting a doctor. If you have a dry, irritating cough, your doctor may prescribe a medicine containing codeine or noscapine. However, such cough suppressants should only be taken in exceptional cases and for a short time, as they can have a depressant effect on breathing (breathing is impaired), suppress the natural cough stimulus and thus prevent mucus from being coughed up.

Older patients, especially those who are bedridden, should have their backs tapped regularly. This loosens and loosens the coughing mucus.
In the case of acute bronchitis with fever, patients can take medication with active ingredients such as acetylsalicylic acid, ibuprofen or paracetamol to reduce the fever. However, fever is a natural reaction of the immune system to an infection - for this reason, fever should not be suppressed immediately.


Acute bronchitis is difficult to prevent with specific measures. Hygiene measures such as frequent hand washing or hand disinfection, changing towels or wearing a face mask can protect against infection. It also helps to eat a balanced diet, refrain from smoking, exercise regularly and thus generally strengthen the body's defenses.

Certain groups of people are recommended to have a flu vaccination, as they are at an increased risk of contracting an infection. These include older people over the age of 60 and patients with chronic lung, cardiovascular, liver or kidney disease, diabetes mellitus or AIDS. Healthy people who are at high risk of infection for professional reasons - for example, medical staff - should also be vaccinated.

Would you like to talk to a doctor on the topic of ${krankheit}?

Medgate App

With a doctor available to you on your phone, you will always be well prepared in the event of illness – even at night and on weekends.

Find out more

Online booking

Get a doctor’s appointment for a medical consultation and treatment quickly and easily.

Book an appointment

Find out more

Settlement via your health insurance

The consultation is billed via the health insurance company within the scope of the statutory benefits (analogous to a visit to a doctor's office) and is recognized by all Swiss health insurers. During weekdays, a teleconsultation costs on average of CHF 50. Surcharges apply at night between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. as well as on weekends and holidays.

In certain insurance models with our partner health insurers, there are no costs such as franchises or deductibles.

Book an appointment with a doctor online