With acute bronchitis, there are cold symptoms such as coryza, dry cough, mild headache or body aches. Acute attack usually improves in about a week with nagging cough that lingers for several weeks.
With chronic bronchitis, there is productive cough that lasts for about three months with recurring bouts lasting for at least two consecutive years.
Sometimes, there is an acute infection on top of chronic bronchitis. The patient is advised to see the doctor when there is high fever and the cough is lasting since more than three weeks accompanied by discolored mucus or blood in the mucus, sleep is disturbed by cough, and is associated with wheezing or shortness of breath.
When symptoms last for longer - usually more than three months - it develops into a more chronic condition which can damage the lungs, causing the tiny air sacs inside the lungs to fill up with fluid.