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Chronic Cough / Bronchitis

Find out when to see a doctor.

Have a cold that you can’t get over, where the cough started and just didn’t stop? It might be bronchitis. While bronchitis is one of many conditions that can cause a chronic cough, it is one of the most common, especially during cold and flu season, and some forms can linger for months or even years without treatment.

Acute bronchitis comes on quickly, and lasts for a few days. It is most often caused by a virus similar to the common cold — and is often called a chest cold. The symptoms are similar to a cold, but often somewhat more severe, and may also include a low fever and gastrointestinal distress besides the identifying cough. Most cases of acute bronchitis are self-limiting and treatments are based on relieving the cough itself, which may continue for a few weeks.

Chronic bronchitis (also known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, and emphysema) is a long-standing inflammation of your major airways that can cause congestion, breathlessness, wheezing and a cough that brings up discolored sputum. Most people with chronic bronchitis are current or former smokers, but others exposed to high levels of air pollution for a substantial part of their lives are also susceptible. While chronic bronchitis is unlikely to go away, there are multiple treatment options to reduce pain and difficulty breathing

For either acute bronchitis or chronic bronchitis, signs and symptoms may include:

  • Cough
  • Production of mucus (sputum), which can be clear, white, yellowish-gray or green in color — rarely, it may be streaked with blood
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Slight fever and chills
  • Chest discomfort

If you have acute bronchitis, you may have a nagging cough that lasts for several weeks. Chronic bronchitis is defined as a productive cough that lasts at least three months, with recurring bouts occurring for at least two consecutive years.

If you have chronic bronchitis, you’re likely to have periods when your signs and symptoms worsen. At those times, you may have acute bronchitis on top of your chronic bronchitis.


When to see a doctor

See your doctor if your cough:

  • Lasts more than three weeks
  • Prevents you from sleeping
  • Is accompanied by fever higher than 100.4 F (38 C)
  • Produces discolored mucus
  • Produces blood
  • Is associated with wheezing or shortness of breath


Urgent Care for Coughs in Phoenix


  • Walk-in friendly
  • Open 7-days a week 8am-8pm
  • In-network for most Arizona insurers
  • Open extended hours
  • Has X-Ray and Lab onsite
  • Staffed by Doctors, Physician Assistants, and Nurse Practitioners.