A New England Journal of Medicine study describes how airway dehydration makes mucus thick – the hallmark of chronic bronchitis, the precursor to deadly COPD by Mehmet Kesimer, PhD, associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the UNC School of Medicine, and Richard Boucher, MD, director of the UNC Marsico Lung Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and paper co-author describes bronchitis diagnosis new formula to treat acute bronchitis. Can you die from bronchitis if not treated – is evidence based resource from this article-Check Bronchitis Treatment Antibiotics

Can you die from bronchitis if not treated?

Can you die from bronchitis if not treated?

A straight answer to the above question “Can you die from bronchitis if not treated”- is Yes.

All the risk factors and statistics, medical treatment used for this article called “Can you die from bronchitis if not treated” have been taken from the official, trusted websites and have gone through data from research, study.

Bronchitis Vs Pneumonia
Estimates of self-reported ‘breathing or lung problems’ according to the Labour Force Survey currently show: around 18,000 new cases each year; 41,000 new and long-standing cases among those who worked in the previous year, and 147,000 among those who have ever worked source: http://www.hse.gov.uk
Bronchitis Vs Pneumonia

On a trip to Sweden, some folks on the business tour were coughing and sneezing. 7 days into the trip I got a sore throat, then began coughing and fatigue. I thought I was catching a cold about weeks ago, but it turned into a very bad cough that got worse and worse until I was coughing so much I knew it was not just a cold. 

I did not come for a visit within the first 5-6 days. I got worse, coughing until I was vomiting. And could not sleep. Finally, I went to the doctor and I was diagnosed with asthmatic bronchitis and put on a steroid treatment along with breathing treatments. The doctor detects several breathing elements that point toward the diagnosis of acute bronchitis. And he gave me antibiotics and an inhaler and benzonatate.  Benzonatate is used to relieve coughing. I took the medicine for a week and started to feel better.   

Dying from chronic bronchitis is natural if it stays in the body untreated for a long time. 

The death toll due to chronic bronchitis had shot up to 2.9 million from 2.4 million in 23 years approximately (1990-2013) [Source: https://www.geni.com/projects/People-who-died-from-Bronchitis/27751]

Bronchitis Symptoms
Bronchitis Symptoms

Is Bronchitis serious?

Since bronchitis happens due to viral and bacterial infection in the lungs, it constricts the air passages, suffocates the patient, limits the oxygen circulation to the lungs and heart- ultimately the patient may end up dead in an untreated condition. 

Surprising, isn’t it?

Can You Die From Untreated Bronchitis?
Source: http://www.hse.gov.uk
Can You Die From Untreated Bronchitis?

A range of lung diseases can be caused by exposures in the workplace including diseases that are very serious – such as cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – which can often be fatal.

Bronchitis has become a phenomenal disease over the last 30-40 years, especially due to the industrial revolution, and its consequent environmental changes. 

Chronic Bronchitis: New Insights Could Lead to First Diagnostic Test and Better Treatments

In this article, we shall take you through the associated aspects, contributing factors, effects, and possible cures for bronchitis.  

Let’s read on.

What Risk Factors of Bronchitis Should You be Aware of?

Richard Boucher, MD, Director Of The UNC Marsico Lung Institute
Richard Boucher, MD, Director Of The UNC Marsico Lung Institute

Frankly, it’s a little embarrassing. Chronic bronchitis is a very common reason why people see their doctor, and we have had no real understanding of how it develops or how to diagnose it. “- said Richard Boucher, MD, director of the UNC Marsico Lung Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill  source [2]

Introducing your lungs to viruses is the main risk factor for developing bronchitis. 

The virus may reside in various common places where we have to come across daily. Work, study, sports, commuting, etc. may involve objects that are invisibly covered with viruses. 


Once ingested viruses in your body, you may develop bacterial attacks in your bronchial passages. 

Some common risk factors for bronchitis are as follows:

  • Malnutrition
  • Allergies from cold, dust, etc.
  • Air pollutants e.g. plastic burning.
  • Industrial gas, chemicals, fumes, dust, etc.
  • Chronic sinusitis 
  • Smoking; primary or secondary
  • Feeble immunization.
  • Catching the virus from acute bronchitis patients.
  • Less or no vaccination.

It may not be possible to avoid all these risk factors but to know how to stay alert is always a better initiative. 

Read More: How to Cure Bronchitis Permanently

What Can an Untreated Pneumonia Do to You?

Pneumonia is the single largest cause of death in children worldwide. Every year, it kills an estimated 1.4 million children under the age of five years, accounting for 18% of all deaths of children under five years old worldwide [Source: https://www.who.int/maternal_child_adolescent/news_events/news/2011/pneumonia/en/]

About 50,000 people died due to pneumonia in 2015 alone in the United States according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) [Source: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/pneumonia.htm]. 

This stat reflects what extent pneumonia can lead to. 

As per the American Thoracic Society, pneumonia is a leading cause of death worldwide [Source: https://www.thoracic.org/patients/patient-resources/resources/top-pneumonia-facts.pdf].

Pneumonia can be called one of the thresholds to chronic bronchitis.

Pneumonia is life-threatening when it becomes infectious to lungs’ airbags, inflames the air passage, and makes it harder every day to breathe in.

Infants under 2 are mostly prone to pneumonia because their lungs and immunization systems are delicate. Chain-smokers, people above 60, chemotherapy patients, surgery patients, etc. are most likely to be caught and tormented by pneumonia. 

Whatever the case is, if left untreated, pneumonia can prove deadly. 

Proper care and medication may help in preventing the critical conditions of pneumonia. If you want to act wise, do the following:

  • Vaccination for certain bacterial or viral diseases.
  • A healthy lifestyle e.g. quit smoking, alcohol, and addiction.
  • Doctor’s check-up at least once in a month about heart, lungs, throat, etc.
  • Practice hygienic habits in necessary activities like before & after the meal, drinking, bathing, bedding, etc. 

How to tell if bronchitis is turning into pneumonia-how do you know if bronchitis turns into pneumonia

  • If your cough continues for more than 3 weeks after your cold or flu is gone
  • If you have a high fever, like over 101°
  • If you are coughing up discolored phlegm (yellow or green; clear to cloudy is normal)
  • If you are coughing up with blood
  • If you are wheezing
  • If you are having night sweats

What is Bronchitis?

Bronchiolitis: Signs, Symptoms and Care

Simply, when your bronchial tubes get infected by virus or bacteria and it makes it harder for the air tubes to carry oxygen to your lungs, you have bronchitis. 

Once affected by bronchitis, you will experience shortness of breathing, wheezing, and mucus. 

Approximately 10% of patients presenting with a cough lasting at least two weeks have evidence of B. pertussis infection.7,8

Acute bronchitis is the most common of this type, while chronic bronchitis indicates a severe stage of bronchial complications. 

Walking Pneumonia Symptoms (atypical pneumonia)

Also known as atypical pneumonia, walking pneumonia is unlike the severe type of pneumonia where patients need bed rest, medical attention, or hospitalization. 

Walking pneumonia mostly go unnoticed by most people as though suffering from common cold or flu.

Following are the symptoms of walking pneumonia:

  • Headache 
  • Inflammation during inhaling air
  • Sore throat
  • Continuous coughing 
  • Vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Wheezing 
  • Difficulty in breathing

Typically, walking pneumonia can last for about a week or slightly more than that, but when it goes on over a month-long course, it is alarming. 

There difference between typical and atypical or walking pneumonia symptoms

Atypical Pneumonia
source: https://www.slideshare.net
Atypical Pneumonia

Bronchitis treatment

Ayurvedic Medicines Can Relieve from Chronic Bronchitis

Ancient Ayurveda or Ayurvedic medicines had been treasured in Indian Subcontinent since long. 

Studies about Ayurvedic medicine application on chronic bronchitis have shown effectiveness. 

Vyaghriharitaki Avaleha (VHA), a polyherbal classical Ayurvedic formulation, usually used in treating cough, asthma, and tuberculosis were proved a safe remedial on chronic bronchitis patients [Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4687240/].

Another popular Ayurvedic medicine in the market is Dabur Shwaasamrit. It is prescribed for use in bronchitis, allergies, or other respiratory complications.

Dabur Shwaasamrit contains vital herbal ingredients which fortify its medicinal merit to cure bronchial diseases. The benefits of Dabur Shwaasamrit intake are:

  • Increased airflow to lungs
  • Works as an expectorant to help reduce cough 
  • Strengthened respiratory system 
  • Reduced breathlessness

You can also apply the following Ayurvedic remedies for alleviating shortness of breathing, nasal and bronchial congestion, sore throat, and other respiratory complications:

  • Drink honey with warm water daily
  • Drink warm water simmered with ginger slices, lemon juice, and honey in empty stomach every morning
  • Chew basil (Tulsi) leaves for clearing your throat from bacterial infection
  • Drink hot milk mixed with turmeric every day
  • Drink lukewarm water mixed with triphala powder to treat wheezing.

Treatment of Bronchitis

COPD (& Emphysema) Explained Clearly – Pathophysiology & Treatment

Clearing Your Chest with Breathing Exercises

The approach towards treating bronchitis aims primarily at easing the patient’s breathing congestion. 

Will bronchitis go away without antibiotics?

Antibiotics usually do not help acute bronchitis.but if you can avoid dust, smoking, cold, then it will help to prevent bronchitis.

Chronic bronchitis: New insights could lead to first diagnostic test, better treatments-led by Mehmet, Boucher, the James C. Moeser Eminent Professor of Medicine at the UNC School of Medicine and other to find out chronic bronchitis reasons and lead to the creation of diagnostic and prognostic tools.Share:    

Study describes how airway dehydration makes mucus thick — the hallmark of chronic bronchitis, the precursor to deadly COPD

Mehmet Kesimer, PhD, Associate Professor Of Pathology And Laboratory Medicine At The UNC School Of Medicine
Mehmet Kesimer, PhD, Associate Professor Of Pathology And Laboratory Medicine At The UNC School Of Medicine

Chronic bronchitis symptoms are often the first tip that a patient will go on to develop COPD,” said Boucher, the James C. Moeser Eminent Professor of Medicine at the UNC School of Medicine.  Source [3]

A doctor may prescribe bronchial medications for clearing the air passage and thinning cough density. Thinning the cough should enable the patient to extrude the cough stuffed inside the chest. 

The patient is also instructed to avoid environmental irritants such as smoke, fume, chemicals, dust, etc. A hygienic lifestyle is also recommended. 

Proper bed-rest is necessary for the patient during medication.

One needs to identify if it’s the acute or chronic bronchitis he or she has caught. 

Acute bronchitis usually goes away within a week or two, whereas chronic bronchitis may agitate you for months. 

Treating bronchitis should be based on the type of bronchitis one is affected with.

In both cases, doctors may advocate some medical tests such as Chest X-Ray, Sputum Culture, Spirometry, etc. for confirming your current condition. 

Following treatments are advised and prescribed by the doctor for bronchitis:

  • Rest, as much as you can. The air passage must recover smoothly during medication (if prescribed any).
  • Drink a lot of fluids. It eases your blood and oxygen circulation throughout the body.
  • Cough Suppressant medicines may be prescribed by the doctor if there seems to be no cough left in your chest. Otherwise, cough exhaling should continue for clearing your air passage.
  • Inhaling warm water with camphor may open up your air tubes for breathing clearly.
  • The doctor may prescribe a pain reliever for relieving body aches due to bronchial contractions. 

Antibiotics may not help treat acute bronchitis as it occurs due to viral attack in the lungs. Medicines are less effective viral diseases.

If you are suffering from chronic bronchitis, which is due to bacterial infection, antibiotics may be prescribed by the physician. 

You should complete the full medication course prescribed by the doctor. Leaving antibiotic medication halfway will keep most of the bacteria alive inside your system that would affect your body later.

An inhaler can be friendly if you have developed asthma or COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). Tell your doctor about all the current medications you are taking, so it doesn’t interact with other medications to be prescribed later. 

What are The Causes of Acute Bronchitis?

Diagnosing the bronchial condition, some common factors may be identified as the causes of acute bronchitis.

Children, young, adult, and elderly- all go through these common factors and end up catching bronchitis.

Following are the causes of acute bronchitis:

Viral Infection

85%-95% of cases of acute bronchitis in adults are due to viral infections [Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2278319/]. 

Same viruses that are responsible for flu or cough can be the reason for the acute bronchitis.

Environmental Irritants

Smoke, smog, chemicals, dust, etc. can inflame your bronchial tubes and trachea, which in turn would lead to acute bronchitis.

Cigarette smoking is considered to be the most frequent cause of bronchitis. 

Bacterial Infection

Bacterial infection may result from Mycoplasma pneumoniaeChlamydia pneumoniae, and Bordetella pertussis (cause of whooping cough). This may lead to acute bronchitis.

How Long Does Bronchitis Last?

10 to 14 days. Usually, acute bronchitis will wear off within a week or two upon proper rest, medication and diet. Chronic bronchitis is a bacterial stage that lasts for about months before you could identify it. With proper medication, rest, and lifestyle, it may go away within 3-4 months. 

Consequent stages may last for more 2-3 years if you need to continue check-ups and medications for getting fully recovered from the bacteria. 

Why Does One Feel Fatigued or Tired Due to Bronchitis

There may be two main reasons why a patient feels fatigued due to bronchitis. 

One: The patient has to cough constantly throughout the day as well as during sleep. This crams the patient’s muscles and bones, whereas it doesn’t let the patient take proper rest at night. Thus the fatigue takes place.

Two: The patient’s lungs are infected by a virus, and it doesn’t go away until 1-2 weeks. During this time, the patient’s immunization system invests all energy to ward off the viruses. This makes the patient tired and fatigued for the whole day.

You may be at ease to know that this fatigue will only last until your body recovers within 10-15 days. If it doesn’t go, consult your doctor to make sure you haven’t caught up with other disease conditions.

Bronchitis treatment

Treat Bronchitis Permanently in Natural Ways

You may apply the following ways involving home and other natural remedies:

Inhale Steam

Try inhaling steam water simmered with camphor, eucalyptus, or pine oil. These elements help your lungs loosening the mucus and clearing your air passages.

Install Humidifier 

A humidifier can be moist the air you would breathe during sleep. Make sure to clean up the humidifier so bacteria or virus cannot participate in the air you are breathing.

Drink Water- A Lot

Drinking at least 6-8 glasses of water can ease your breathing. Water enables you to cough up easily and clear your air tubes. Avoid caffeinated beverages. 

Drinking coffee may comfort you temporarily but drink it less.

Spice up Your Foods

Fiery dishes with pepper and other spicy ingredients would make your nose run and clear mucus in your lungs.

Folk Remedial Teas

You can drink some medicinal teas that clear mucus from the lungs. One of the famous folk remedial teas is Mullen tea. 

Natural Supplementary 

  • Arcozon is a potent herbal medicinal formula that is made in Amazon Rainforest. It has antibacterial properties that can be used in treating bronchial infection.
  • It is crucial to loosen the mucus in your lungs for a clear air passaging. You may intake N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) which is a form of amino acid. NAC helps loosen mucus in the lungs. In both acute and chronic bronchitis, you need to ward off viruses and bacteria. The two known vital herbs called Echinacea and astragalus can kill bacteria and virus, and revitalize your immunization system.
  • R-lipoic acid is naturally produced in our body. But it needs supplementary aid for repairing inflammation. This natural antioxidant nutrient supplementary heals the inflamed airways effectively.

[Source: https://www.besthealthmag.ca/best-you/health/natural-home-remedies-bronchitis/]

Also, quit smoking as it is one of the most pivotal causes behind bronchitis. 

Try to intake vitamin C nutrient foods because it can fight off the viruses. 

Treat Bronchitis Permanently in Medical Ways

Acute bronchitis may be cured without treatment within 2-3 weeks. But if the doctor finds it necessary or you develop chronic bronchitis, you may need proper medication.

The doctor may prescribe cough Medicine if the cough is depriving you of your sleep. A cough suppressant syrup or tablet may help you in this case.

If you have developed bacterial attack or infections in the lungs, or if you have asthmatic symptoms or COPD, an inhaler or relevant medications may be prescribed by the doctor for clearing the air passages.

When agitated by chronic bronchitis, you may participate in pulmonary rehabilitation- a breathing exercise held by a respiratory therapist. It teaches you to breathe effectively during your bronchial complication days. 

[Source: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bronchitis/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20355572]

Acute Bronchitis Treatment

Acute bronchitis treatment are as follows-

  • Drink enough fluids, fruits juice but avoid caffeine (De-caffeinate yourself) and alcohol.
  • Get enough sleep and Get plenty of rest.
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce inflammation, ease pain, and lower your fever.
  • Increase the humidity in your home or use a humidifier.

Acute bronchitis generally lasts about one to three weeks. If you are affected by acute bronchitis then your recovery time is within 10-14 days depending on your immune system and proper nursing. Some may have to endure this condition until three weeks also.

How do you get bronchitis

Bronchitis can result from-

  1. A virus, for example, a cold or flu virus. a bacterial infection.
  2. Have asthma or an allergy
  3. Tobacco smoke
  4. Dust and air pollution.

Why does bronchitis make you so tired

A terrible uncontrollable cough makes life miserable. Moreover, it does last a long time if you don’t take any antibiotics.  Acute bronchitis can make you feel very tired for two reasons: Firstly, the persistent cough can disturb your sleep and cause fatigue

How to Differentiate Between Bronchitis and Pneumonia?

Bronchitis is a stage in which bronchial tubes are affected by virus or bacteria- whereas, in pneumonia, air sacs called Alveoli, are affected by the infection.

Bronchitis is identified by diagnosing the symptoms and listening to the patient’s chest with a stethoscope- whereas; pneumonia can be diagnosed by blood test and chest X-Ray.

Bronchitis causes persistent cough accompanied by chest tightness- whereas, pneumonia can exhilarate cough while accompanied by high fever.

Bronchitis creates coughing and congestion, whereas pneumonia affects blood cells from not getting enough oxygen. 

Chronic bronchitis condition can be improved with medication and care- whereas; pneumonia can prove sometimes deadly. 

Is Pneumonia Curable?

The curability of pneumonia depends on the type of pneumonia you have developed in your body. 

Following methods can cure pneumonia if applied carefully:

Doctor’s Prescription

Prescribed medicines can alleviate your pneumonia condition. 

Oral antibiotics can fight off the bacterial attack in your lungs and other sections. Never leave your antibiotics course incomplete. Doing so will regenerate the bacterial attack in your body and return the pneumonia symptoms.

Doctors can prescribe antifungal medicines if you have caught pneumonia due to fungi attack.

OTC Medicine

Your doctor may prescribe some over-the-counter medicine which you can avail to intake while resting at home.

You may be advocated some cough suppressant medicine so you can rest without disturbance of coughing.

Hospitalized Treatment

You may need to take hospitalized treatment if you have reached a sever stage of pneumonia.

Intravenous antibiotics, respiratory therapy, oxygen therapy, etc. may be intervened while you are getting a hospitalized treatment for curing pneumonia.

Is Bronchitis Contagious?

Bronchitis may be only contagious if it is acute bronchitis. Acute bronchitis occurs due to a virus which may spread from one person to others through 

  • sneezing, 
  • coughing, 
  • exhaling,
  • talking,
  • shaking hands.

Using the acute bronchitis patient’s belongings may spread viruses too.

What to Eat When Affected by Bronchitis?

You have to make a balance between foods to intake and avoid while suffering from bronchitis.

Below is the list of foods you should eat during bronchitis condition:

  • Have only fruits for 4-5 days later can have raw salads, vegetables and sweet fruits for next 5-6 days.
  • Hot vegetable soups.
  • Bland and boiled food.
  • Turmeric, garlic, ginger and onions.
  • Vitamin C and Citrus fruits
  • Vitamin B enriched foods such as:
    • Milk and milk products, eggs, shrimps, crabs and lobsters.
    • Lean meat especially fish, dairy products, poultry, liver.
    • Carrots, bananas, avocado, raspberries, artichoke, cauliflower, soy flour, barley, cereals pasta, whole grains, barn like unpolished rice and wheat germ, dried beans, peas and soybeans.
    • Green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grain.
  • Vitamin A; to maintain the integrity of the respiratory mucosa: 
  • Fish liver oil from cod, shark, and halibut are the richest sources of vitamin A.

                -Animal sources: egg, milk and milk products, meat, fish, kidney and liver.

                -Yellow orange-colored fruits and vegetables, dark green leafy vegetables.

· Ginger powder or fresh ginger juice mixed with honey before sleep.

Is Bronchitis Serious?

Bronchitis may not be health-compromising if it stays within the acute bronchitis stage. Acute bronchitis is likely to stop within 10-15 days or 3 weeks at best. 

The problem occurs when bronchitis progresses towards the chronic stage where bacteria infect your lungs. Such condition may last for months and becomes incurable in some cases.

Older people above 60 are more susceptible to this incurable condition where medications can only help them to experience an improved situation, not cure.

Constant exerting on coughing makes elderly patients weak and damaged.

Chronic bronchitis may take away your willingness to work and even do the simplest chores at home. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What happens if pneumonia is left untreated?


Pneumonia could be lethal to patients with weak immunization system, insufficient vaccination, unhealthy lifestyle, and improper medication. The patient must be treated with the utmost care by a specialist doctor. 

There are cases of patients still fighting with this agonizing condition of pneumonia, working, living their lives to their fullest upon proper care and medication.

On the other hand, there are reported cases of thousands of unfortunates who died due to the worse effects of pneumonia. Can you die from bronchitis if not treated-Yes

2. How can I permanently cure bronchitis?


Bronchitis is of two types: Acute and Chronic. 

If you are affected by acute bronchitis which is the most ordinary bronchitis type, you may be able to get rid of it within 10-15 days or 3 weeks at best. Proper medication and care prescribed by the doctor should help you fight acute bronchitis effectively.

When it comes to chronic bronchitis, you will be diagnosed if your bronchial tubes are affected by bacteria. If yes, the doctor shall prescribe you antibiotics and healthy lifestyle so you can develop efficient immunization to fight off chronic bronchitis.

You can also cure bronchitis in natural and home remedial ways. Quitting smoking, alcohol, taking vapor, drinking honey and herbal teas, chewing basil leaves, enough rest, etc. shall cure bronchitis.

3. Can you die from pneumonia?

When you have pneumonia, the tiny air sacs in your lungs become inflamed and can fill with fluid or even pus. Pneumonia can range from a mild to serious or life-threatening infection and can sometimes lead to death. Additionally, pneumonia is the leading cause of death worldwide for children under 5 years of age.Can You Die from Pneumonia? What You Need to Know

Do I have bronchitis quiz-

Take the Bronchitis Quiz First In here- BRONCHITIS QUIZ

Another Part of Bronchitis Quiz

4 Questions to Determine If You Have Bronchitis

The research was taken from Dr. Mehmet Kesimer

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