Patho Patho #53


The nurse is teaching a client about her new diagnosis of bronchitis. How does the nurse describe the pathogenesis of this disease process?


  1. “Bronchitis is an infection of the smallest portion of the airway called alveoli causing them to fill with fluid.”
    • Rationale:

      This answer choice is not correct because bronchitis is not an infection of the small airways. Bronchitis is an irritation of the bronchi, which are the large airways. Pneumonia affects the small airways, the alveoli.

  2. “Bronchitis is an irritation of the large airways called bronchi causing an over production of mucus which is what is causing your cough.”
    • Rationale:

      This answer is correct because bronchitis is caused by irritation of the large airways causing overproduction of mucus and a productive cough. A productive cough is the hallmark manifestation associated with bronchitis.

  3. “Bronchitis is a loss of the elastic recoil of the large airways leading to difficulty with moving air in and out of your lungs.”
    • Rationale:

      This answer choice is not correct as inelastic alveoli is associated with emphysema and not bronchitis.

  4. “Bronchitis is an upper airway infection caused by an airborne virus that causes fever, coughing, and muscle aches.”
    • Rationale:

      This answer choice is not correct as bronchitis is not an airborne infection. This description is more closely associated with a tuberculosis infection.


The focus of this question is asking the nurse to describe the pathophysiological process that leads to the development of bronchitis. Bronchitis does not typically develop alone but rather it follows an acute infection such as influenza or the common cold. The upper respiratory infection that causes severe coughing irritates the bronchi causing over-stimulation of the goblet cells which produce mucus. The overproduction of mucus leads to a productive cough which is the hallmark symptoms of bronchitis.


Learning Outcomes

When describing the pathophysiology of bronchitis, the nurse must include the processes that lead to the development of the productive cough associated with the disease process. Clients with bronchitis typically contract an upper respiratory infection that causes coughing. Repeated coughing irritates the bronchi, stimulates the goblet cells which line the bronchi, and causes an overproduction of mucus. A productive cough is the most classic manifestation associated with bronchitis.

Test Taking Tip

The hallmark manifestation of bronchitis is a productive cough; the hallmark manifestation of emphysema is new onset dyspnea.

Video Rationale