Greek physicians and other ancient healers have recognized the presence of excess phlegm and cough—which are the classic symptoms of bronchitis—for centuries. Early healers administered remedies such as garlic, pepper, cinnamon, and turpentine for the condition. Centuries later, doctors began prescribing therapies that included coffee, ipecac, and potassium nitrate. Many of the modern drugs used to treat bronchitis are derived from these early remedies.
While early physicians knew of this condition, it wasn’t until the nineteenth century that the condition received the name we know it by today. In 1808, British physician Charles Badham was the first to describe bronchitis and give the acute form of the condition its name: acute bronchitis. Badham also distinguished acute bronchitis from chronic bronchitis.
Further research expanded upon experts’ understanding of the condition. A 1901 article, for example, describes the symptoms and treatment of chronic bronchitis in the elderly; it also explores how weather and other environmental factors could worsen the condition. Subsequent research supports those findings.