NR 507 Describe in detail the pathophysiological process of bronchitis

NR 507 Describe in detail the pathophysiological process of bronchitis

NR 507 Describe in detail the pathophysiological process of bronchitis

What is the etiology of bronchitis?

There are two kinds of Bronchitis: Acute Bronchitis, that is caused by “Infections or lung irritants,” and Chronic Bronchitis, that is caused by “repeatedly breathing in fumes that irritate and damage lung and airway tissues” (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 2018). This could be like smoking or inhaling second-hand smoke. The etiology of bronchitis is the same that causes upper respiratory infections. The names of the viruses that cause bronchitis are coronavirus, rhinovirus, respiratory syncytial virus, and adenovirus. Most cases of bronchitis come from a virus instead of bacteria. Current smoking is associated with a more goblet cell hyperplasia and number, and chronic bronchitis is associated with more goblet cells, independent of the presence of airflow obstruction. This provides clinical and pathologic correlation for smokers with and without COPD (Kim et al., 2015).

Describe in detail the pathophysiological process of bronchitis.

The pathophysiological process of bronchitis is very simple. The symptoms of acute bronchitis are due to acute inflammation of the bronchial wall, which causes increased mucus production along with edema of the bronchus (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 2018). This leads to the productive cough that is the hallmark of a lower respiratory tract infection. While the infection may clear in several days, repair of the bronchial wall may take several weeks. During the period of repair, patients will continue to cough. Pulmonary function studies of patients with acute bronchitis demonstrate bronchial obstruction similar to that in asthma. As the symptoms of acute bronchitis subside, pulmonary function returns to normal.  Most patients will cough for less than 2 weeks with the illness.  If a patient coughs longer than 1 month then the term is post bronchitis syndrome (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 2018). The bronchial walls are trying to repair after the clearance of the infection.

Identify hallmark signs identified from the physical exam and symptoms.

The hallmark sign and symptoms are duration of cough less than 30 days, productive cough, no history of chronic respiratory illness, and fever. Production of mucus (sputum), which can be clear, white, and yellowish-gray or green in color can occur in acute bronchitis.  Acute bronchitis is caused by a virus.  Cough from the irritated and inflamed bronchial epithelium and increased mucus production (McCance, Huether, Brashers and Rote, 2013).


Describe the pathophysiology of complications of bronchitis.

As with most diseases, complications can arise from bronchitis. Around one person in 20 with bronchitis may develop a secondary infection in the lungs leading to pneumonia. The infection is commonly bacterial although the initial infection that caused the bronchitis may be viral.  The infection affects the tiny air sacs known as alveoli in the lungs (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 2018). Although a single episode of bronchitis usually isn’t cause for concern, it can lead to pneumonia in some people. Repeated bouts of bronchitis, however, may mean that you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. Chronic bronchitis can lead to long term COPD with progressively diminishing lung reserves and breathing difficulties. COPD further raises the risk of occasional flare ups and increased risk of recurrent and frequent chest infections. When you breathe, air moves in your trachea through two tubes called bronchi.  The bronchi branch out into smaller tubes called bronchioles. At the ends of the bronchioles are little air sacs called alveoli. And at the end of alveoli are capillaries, which are tiny blood vessels.  Oxygen moves around in the lungs to the bloodstream through the capillaries. Carbon dioxide moves from the blood into the capillaries and then into the lungs and exhaled. The fibers in the walls of the lungs can become damage (Kim et al, 2015). They are not able to expand and make them less elastic when you exhale.

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What teaching related to her diagnosis would you provide?

I would educate Tammy about second-hand exposure to smoke.  This could make her bronchitis even worse if

NR 507 Describe in detail the pathophysiological process of bronchitis
NR 507 Describe in detail the pathophysiological process of bronchitis

exposed.  Tammy would most likely be prescribed an inhaler that would open up her bronchioles, helping her breath better.  Most people should drink at least 8 eight-ounce cups of water a day. You may need to drink more liquids when you have acute bronchitis. Liquids help keep your air passages moist and help you cough up mucus.  I would encourage Tammy to get plenty of rest to help fight the infection.  Tammy could use a cool mist humidifier to decrease her cough and make it easier for her to breath (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 2018).



Kim, V., Oros, M., Durra, H., Kelsen, S., Aksoy, M., Cornwell, WD., et al. (2015) Chronic Bronchitis and Current Smoking Are Associated with More Goblet Cells in Moderate to Severe COPD and Smokers without Airflow Obstruction. PLoS ONE 10(2). Doi:

McCance, K. L., Huether, S. E., Brashers, V. L., & Rote, N. S. (2013). Pathophysiology: The biologic basis for disease in adults and children (7th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Mosby.

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2018). Bronchitis. National Institute of Health. Retrieved from

You really identified the pathological hallmark, the pathological complication of bronchitis. Acute bronchitis is a transient inflammation of the trachea and major bronchi (Wark, 2011). Clinically, it is diagnosed on the basis of a cough and occasionally sputum, dyspnoea, and wheeze. Pathogens and allergen expose are factors that trigger acute bronchitis. Bronchitis is a self-limiting illness, but times the illness do not go away and can lead to complication such as a chronic cough, chronic bronchitis, and pneumonia

As nurse practitioners (NPs) it is very important that we are quick in diagnosing acute bronchitis on time by paying attention to the hallmark signs of the disease to prevent the complication of the disease such as pneumonia and chronic bronchitis, which has been linked to impaired lung function and decrease in oxygenation to tissues and organs.  These complications if not well managed can lead to death. NPs must treat patient with the right medication mucolytic drugs and antibiotics for those that develop an infection. It is also important to educate the patient on the importance of life style changes such quitting tobacco use and smoking cessation as well as teaching patients the importance of proper hand hygiene to prevent reoccurrence


Wark, P. (2011). Bronchitis (acute). BMJ Clinical Evidence2011, 1508. Retrieved from,

I read enjoyed reading your informative post and especially like your educational area. I think too many people do not realize the value of water and hydration. You covered this area very well. Having had bronchitis, I remember being exhausted and the cure all was homemade chicken noodle soup. The old wise tales were very interesting and perhaps there was truth. And of course, there was guaifenesin, a mucoactive drug, to which the doctor stated that it would loosen the mucus to make the cough more productive. Albrecht, Dicpinigaitis & Guenin (2017) stated that the dosing range is 200 to 400 mg every 4 hours and can be taken to six times daily. There are both immediate release formulas as well as those that are extended release and is tolerable for most pediatric and adult patients. Teaching would also include to make sure that if this patient had any children or grandchildren.  Again, I really enjoyed your post.

I found an interesting research article that I wanted to share about the use of bronchodilators. After thinking about the topic, for those with asthma, there has to be mention about bronchodilator drugs, Sarioglu, Bilen, Sackes & Gencer (2015) discussed bronchodilator drugs and antibiotics and went into detail about carbonic anhydrase (CA). Carbonic anhydrase (CA) is an enzyme controlling the acid-base balance and Sarioglu, Bilen Sacke & Gencer (2015) added that this enzyme also has a role in electrolyte secretion in tissues. In a study that looked at CA I and II activities, Sarioglu, Bilen Sacke & Gencer (2015) acknowledged that there is strong evidence that there are adverse effects when utilizing antibiotics and bronchodilator drugs because of the carbonic anhydrase inhibition. Again, this has captured my attention because we as clinicians have to look at the patient medications with a fine tooth comb in the prevention of adverse reactions.


Albrecht, H. H., Dicpinigaitis, P. V., & Guenin, E. P. (2017). Role of

guaifenesin in the management of chronic bronchitis and upper

respiratory tract infections. Multidisciplinary Respiratory Medicine, 121.


Sarioglu, N., Bilen, C., Sackes, Z., & Gencer, N. (2015). The effects of

bronchodilator drugs and antibiotics used for respiratory infection on

human erythrocyte carbonic anhydrase I and II isozymes. Archives Of

         Physiology & Biochemistry, 121(2), 56-61.