Prognosis for Acute Cases

Patients with acute bronchitis have a good prognosis; it is rarely fatal and usually clears up in less than 3 weeks on its own, without treatment.

Prognosis for Chronic Cases

By contrast, patients with chronic bronchitis and severe breathlessness have a poor prognosis with a shorter life expectancy than those without the lung disease.

Life Expectancy

Morbidity Rates

The Global Initiative on Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) system is used to classify the lung function in patients with chronic bronchitis and emphysema, two of the most common forms of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Healthcare professionals classify patients experiencing mild lung dysfunction as stage 0 and those with significant lung problems as stage 4. Patients with stage 0 COPD experience only a moderate reduction in life expectancy, while those with stage 4 can expect a significant reduction. Research shows that, at age 65, the reduction of life expectancy for a male at stage 1, stage 2, and stages 3 or 4 disease in current smokers are 0.3 years, 2.2 years, and 5.8 years, respectively. Smokers can expect an another 3.5 years of shortened life expectancy in addition to the numbers listed above.

Chronic bronchitis has a morbidity rate of about 3.4 percent of the population. Each year, healthcare providers diagnose approximately 9.5 million people with this condition. Along with emphysema, chronic bronchitis is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The average mortality rate of COPD is 39.7 people per 100,000 U.S. residents. Claiming more than 146,000 lives per year in the nation, COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States.


Is bronchitis curable?

Acute bronchitis is curable and usually goes away on its own within three weeks, without treatment. There is no cure for chronic bronchitis.

Can bronchitis cause death?

Acute bronchitis rarely causes death. Chronic bronchitis, by contrast, is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, a group of respiratory conditions. COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States, claiming approximately 146,000 lives each year.  

Can bronchitis last for months?

Acute bronchitis typically lasts less than three weeks. Chronic bronchitis, is diagnosed after having symptoms for three months or longer, two years in a row.

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