Respiratory Disorders Expert Forum
Cold or bronchitis?
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Cold or bronchitis?

I am a healthy 48 year old male non-smoker.  I have had two colds this fall-winter, the first in November and the second one currently.  Besides the usual runny nose and congestion, my symptoms include a sometimes-productive cough, sometimes producing green sputum.  I have always assumed that the sputum I've coughed up with colds was originally from the nose and had drained down into my throat and larynx area and this was why it seemed worse in the morning.  After the upper respiratory part of my November illness subsided, I had an extended period where I felt mucus in my throat and often had to clear it or cough it out.  That illness did completely resolve.  I am still in the middle of the current cold. I've not had any fever or fatigue with either illness.  I'm wondering how to discern when the cough is just a cold and when it is bronchitis or something worse. I have no history of asthma, but have had nasal allergy symptoms throughout my life.   My questions are (1) Should I be concerned about developing another cold so soon after the last one? (2) Could I be having episodes of bronchitis and is there a potential for long term adverse effects from this?  
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242587_tn?1355427710
I gather that it is uncommon for you to have two colds in close proximity, even during the winter months.  Two colds in an otherwise healthy, non-smoker, young man in a several month period should ordinarily not be cause for concern, especially in the absence of fever or fatigue or, I gather any other symptoms.  Although, green mucous is uncommon with the common cold, you might have had bronchitis or sinusitis with the cold.  That the first illness eventually did completely resolve suggests two separate illnesses.  Re your second question, the answer is yes, you could have had acute bronchitis with one or both episodes, or even mild pneumonia.  Even two closely occurring bouts of bronchitis would not be cause for concern and would not be associated with long term adverse effects.  While unlikely, these episodes could be a sign of some other respiratory disease, not encompassed by the preceding discussion, of which there are many and thus your concern is warranted.

A reasonable approach would be to proceed as follows.  If the current illness completely resolves and you remain completely symptom free from this point, without another cold until sometime next winter, you need not request further medical intervention.  If, however, should you experience any otherwise unexplained systemic symptoms such as fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss or any symptom that could remotely be respiratory in origin, you should see your doctor for examination and a chest X-ray, without further delay.  In addition, should you have been exposed to anyone with a chronic communicable disease, for example tuberculosis, or been to a part of our country (for example the southwest) or for that matter anywhere in the world where one or more specific respiratory diseases are endemic, you should see your doctor and have a chest X-ray now.
2 Comments
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351724_tn?1267540618
Hello ,
Well  it sounds like you have the same thing i have . so far its been a wk in half with this cold or whatever it is . but my main concern is the cough . my cough sometimes sounds dry or sounds like im gargling  but nothing comes up . and my nose runs like mad then drys up then goes back to running lol . i am a smoker been smoking on and off since i was 13 yrs old . a few yrs ago i had a real bad upper resp. infection with bronc. at first they thought it was copd or asthma and they gave me inhalers ,prednazone  more inhalers and it went on for wks and still no help my rib cage felt like someone used it for a punching bag , i was having trouble breathing , then one day i got a bad bad pain in my left back ribs were lung is located so i went to e.r. and they were the ones telling me i had a real bad upper resp infection and needed antibiotics asap ! i finally went to a pulmanary doc and he said i was fine i didnt have asthma or copd !

Anyways i now  have a cold again its been over a wk now the only thing thats got me worried is this cough its a wacky one too  with sometimes being  dry or sounding like im gargling i do notice in the mornings i take off coughing or when i lay down flat . and in the middle of the night i had it wake me up from coughing it almost felt like i took a deep breath in my sleep like i was dreaming it , then woke up coughing ,

Anyways you probley never got rid of the last one completely for it being that soon . and 2. it could be a poss. of you having bronchitis but it may be acute . and 3. that i really dont know .i would do reseach or go to a pulm doc and see what exactly is going on ! i hope i helped some . and best of luck to ya !
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