The text is presented for informational purposes only. We urge you not to self-medicate. When the first symptoms appear, consult a doctor. Recommended reading: " Why not self-medicate?". Tracheitis is an inflammatory process in the upper respiratory tract with damage to the tracheal mucosa. The etiology of the disease can be viral or bacterial, it can occur due to various acute viral or bacterial infections or influenza. Tracheitis does not pose a danger to life if it is diagnosed in a timely manner and the necessary therapy is carried out.

The trachea is an air tube between the bronchi and the pharynx, formed by semirings of cartilage. Very rarely, tracheitis occurs as an independent disease, it can develop as a result of hypothermia, inhalation of dry, hot or too cold air. In addition to the viral or bacterial nature, pathology can also occur as an allergic reaction to external stimuli.

Classification by origin

Tracheitis by origin is divided into primary (not associated with other diseases of the respiratory system, rarely occurs in medical practice) and secondary (develops against the background of other infectious respiratory tract injury).

Primary and secondary tracheitis

Primary tracheitis is understood as a pathology that has arisen as a result of damage exclusively to the trachea. Other respiratory organs remain intact and are not the source of the disease. Primary tracheitis is an independent disease without an acute form of pathology.

Secondary tracheitis occurs against the background of other diseases of the upper respiratory tract of an inflammatory or infectious nature. In addition to the trachea, the disease may secondaryally involve the lungs, bronchi, sinuses, larynx, pharynx, and other organs.

Infectious tracheitis

Tracheitis of infectious origin is caused by the same pathogens that cause pharyngitis, laryngitis and rhinitis: staphylococci, viruses, streptococci, etc.

Viral type

Viral tracheitis refers to an acute form of the disease that occurs with acute respiratory viral infections and influenza. This type of pathology is very contagious and is usually transmitted by airborne droplets. Symptoms of viral tracheitis always depend on the type of pathogen and the severity of the underlying infection. The most common symptoms in this case are a paroxysmal cough, which is unproductive at the beginning of the disease, and as it resolves, it is accompanied by sputum that is discharged within a few days, as well as acute rhinitis with rhinorrhea, copious mucous discharge from the nose and impaired nasal breathing.

Viral tracheitis in the standard case does not require specific therapy. Usually, after the production of antibodies against the incoming virus in the body, the active phase of the disease passes. Therefore, with an uncomplicated course of a viral disease, it is enough for a patient to treat mucolytics, rest and warm drinks, and in the case of a paroxysmal dry cough, an antitussive drug can be taken to alleviate the symptom.

Bacterial type

Most often, the bacterial type of tracheitis occurs as a secondary infection after influenza or other acute respiratory viral infections, in which any bacterial infection (Staphylococcus aureus, streptococcus and haemophilus influenzae). This type of tracheitis is less contagious compared to viral, it can be transmitted to a healthy person from a sick person only in conditions of close contact. According to the symptoms, bacterial tracheitis practically does not differ from viral, with the exception of the appearance of purulent sputum at a certain stage of the disease.

Fungal type

A rare type of tracheitis is a disease of fungal etiology. Most often, it can occur with a reduced level of immunity and activation of fungi of the Candida families, aspergillosis or actinomycosis in the body. The disease of aspergillus etiology mainly simultaneously spreads to the mucous membranes of the bronchi and trachea, causing tracheobronchitis. With actinomycosis tracheitis, pathogens enter the trachea from the esophagus, and Candida enters the esophagus from the oral cavity, pharynx, and larynx.

Allergic type

Allergy can also lead to inflammation in the tracheal mucosa. In turn, allergic reactions can be the result of food allergies in children, hereditary predisposition, contact with various chemicals and other substances, long-term infections. Allergic tracheitis can occur in an acute form, or, with prolonged and constant contact with sensitizing substances, it can become chronic.

Causes of the disease

Pathogenic agents

Tracheitis can be caused by various pathogens, as well as internal and external factors:

  • bacterial microorganisms;
  • viral infections;
  • allergens of various nature;
  • work in hazardous working conditions;
  • area with polluted air;
  • hypothermia of the body;
  • too dry or too humid air;
  • complications of respiratory viral diseases.

In this case, the most common causative agents of viral tracheitis are:

The most common causative agents of bacterial tracheitis are:

  • streptococcus;
  • Haemophilus influenzae;
  • Staphylococcus aureus.

Negative factors can also cause tracheitis. It often becomes a consequence of diseases that provoke a violation of nasal breathing, for example, rhinitis, sinusitis, adenoiditis, tumors, and others. Diseases leading to secondary immunodeficiency, many somatic diseases, as well as seasonal allergies, tobacco smoke and adverse environmental conditions (cold, dryness and humidity, dustiness, etc.) are capable of causing tracheitis.

Psychological factors

The main symptom of psychogenic tracheitis is a prolonged and painful cough. In order not to be mistaken and correctly identify exactly psychogenic cough, it is necessary to pay attention to the specific features of psychosomatic tracheitis:

  • a strong cough during the day and its absence at night, provoke an attack of coughing can be emotional overstrain, unpleasant conversation and physical activity;
  • cough lasts a very long time and is not treated with traditional medicines;
  • the medical examination does not reveal any disorders associated with the respiratory system, there are no changes in the analyzes.

The human body has the ability to develop a defensive reaction to various actions or statements of others, and one of these reactions can be a cough.

Ways of infection

The contagiousness of tracheitis directly depends on the cause that provoked the disease. With a bacterial etiology of the disease, the likelihood of infecting a healthy person practically does not exist, this becomes possible only with very close contact with the patient, when bacteria can be transmitted by kissing or through common dishes.

Viral tracheitis is very contagious, easily transmitted by airborne droplets. For example, enterovirus or adenovirus are transmitted from person to person, even at a distance, provided they are in the same room. Talking, coughing and sneezing contribute to the spread of viruses in the air. Shared appliances also spread the infection from person to person.

The infectiousness of the chronic form of tracheitis is determined by the stage of the disease. With stable remission and the absence of relapses, the transmission of the disease is impossible.

The most common is the airborne route of infection with tracheitis. When sneezing and coughing, viruses, the concentration of which in sputum is very high, spread into the environment and die in it. However, if a healthy person is nearby, particles of saliva or have enter the body with inhaled air and the person becomes ill.

Thus, airborne infection occurs when talking over short distances, sharing eating utensils, sometimes shaking hands, or sharing towels. The causative agents of tracheitis can cause not only this pathology, but also inflammation of all organs of the respiratory tract.

In the acute period of the disease, the patient is most contagious. At this time, it releases the maximum amount of the pathogen into the environment. This period is characterized by the onset of the initial symptoms of the disease - sore throat, dry cough, general malaise. The acute period lasts up to 5 days. It is preceded by an incubation period, during which the patient is already infected, but the disease has not yet manifested. This period can last for tracheitis from 1 to 10 days. At this time, the sick person does not pose a danger to others.

Symptoms of the disease

The main symptom of tracheitis is paroxysmal cough. At the beginning of the disease, the cough is unproductive, then scanty sputum appears, at night and in the morning the intensity of the attacks increases significantly, as with loud conversations, laughter, crying, deep breathing of air.

When coughing, the patient often feels a scratchy throat and pain or burning in the sternum. Gradually, the viscosity of sputum decreases and it begins to move more easily, which leads to a decrease in the cough itself and the pain that it creates in the chest and throat. This may indicate resolution of the inflammatory process. Sometimes with tracheitis, inflammation can affect the mucous membrane of the larynx, which provokes hoarseness. At the onset of the disease, an increase in body temperature and general weakness are most often observed. If, against the background of tracheitis, the bronchi begin to be affected and tracheobronchitis occurs, then the patient's condition worsens and clinical symptoms of bronchitis appear - the temperature rises, the cough becomes more frequent and deeper, there may be shortness of breath and pain symptoms with each bout of coughing, localized behind the sternum.

The nature of the course of the disease

Acute form

Acute tracheitis occurs due to the penetration of viral or bacterial infections into the tracheal mucosa. The disease develops suddenly, and its duration is usually about 14 days. This form of the disease is mainly manifested as one of the symptoms in acute respiratory diseases and influenza.

The main cause of acute tracheitis is a viral infection, much less often this pathology is caused by staphylococci, streptococci or Haemophilus influenzae. A distinctive feature of acute tracheitis from other inflammatory diseases localized in the upper respiratory tract is a painful paroxysmal cough that does not allow sleep at night, or begins in the early morning, often with pain in the chest. Periodic bouts of coughing are accompanied by a slight discharge of sputum.


Chronic tracheitis is a process of prolonged inflammation of the trachea. In this case, the chronic form of the disease is atrophic and hypertrophic. With atrophic chronic tracheitis, the mucous membranes of the trachea become thinner, while they acquire a gray tint and in some places become covered with crusts, causing cough in this case. In the hypertrophic form of chronic tracheitis, on the contrary, the vessels thicken and the mucous membrane of the larynx swells, which also provokes cough syndrome.

The course of chronic tracheitis depends primarily on the state of the human immune system. If the protective functions of the body work in the prescribed mode, then relapses rarely occur, mainly in the autumn. In the remission stage in adults, there are practically no symptoms of the disease. There may be a slight cough without sputum. In adults, the symptoms of the chronic form of tracheitis during exacerbation may be more pronounced than during the initial acute stage. But more often the disease is tolerated much easier than with the initial appearance.

Possible complications

Regardless of the form of the disease, against the background of the spread of the inflammatory process down the respiratory system, a whole group of complications is possible.

Tracheobronchitis is an inflammatory process that affects both the mucous membranes of the bronchi and the trachea. If tracheitis is complicated by pneumonia, then the general state of health deteriorates sharply and significantly, chest pains appear during breathing and coughing. Ignoring the symptoms of the disease, failure to provide timely medical care can provoke stenosis of the larynx or obstruction of the bronchial tree. Broncho-pulmonary complications are accompanied by high fever, severe cough, the appearance and rapid spread of pulmonary rales, and the development of hard breathing in the lungs.

Duration of tracheitis

In adults, tracheitis is most often acute and ends by 10-14 days. When transferring the disease "on the legs" and self-treatment, instead of adequate therapy, the inflammatory process can become chronic with the addition of various complications, which will necessarily affect the timing of the course of the disease.

Prolonged pathology will always be expressed by an increased cough and scanty sputum. Coughing fits most often occur at night and can last up to 30 minutes. When tracheitis is complicated by pneumonia or bronchitis, the duration of the disease can reach up to two months.

In children of different ages, tracheitis can last for a different amount of time. Schoolchildren usually get sick in the same way as adult patients, and with inadequate therapy, their illness can be delayed for 3-4 weeks. Preschoolers and infants have a weak immune system and a weak cough reflex, so their duration of the disease can stretch up to 4-5 weeks and proceed with unexpressed symptoms - a slight cough with a small amount of sputum.

Diagnosis of pathology

A doctor diagnoses tracheitis based on several criteria. One of them is the patient's complaints about a paroxysmal unproductive night and morning cough, which eventually becomes wet with scanty sputum and which greatly increases with deep inspiration, crying, laughing, screaming. Also, a symptom of tracheitis for a doctor may be a complaint of retrosternal pain when coughing. The anamnesis of the disease will show the specialist the stages of the development of the disease and help to find out the cause of tracheitis. Physical examination of the patient includes, in this case, auscultation of the lungs for the presence of dry or moist rales, hardness of breathing, as well as a laryngoscope examination of the larynx.

Also, in order to diagnose and exclude complications, the patient must pass a general blood test, which can suggest a viral or bacterial etiology of the disease. Among the additional diagnostic methods for tracheitis are common:

  • X-ray of the lungs to rule out bronchitis or pneumonia;
  • spirography or spirometry to evaluate lung ventilation and lung function (needed to rule out asthma or chronic bronchial obstruction);
  • sputum analysis to identify the causative agent and determine its sensitivity to antibiotics, if necessary.

In some cases, patients with tracheitis may need to consult a pulmonologist.

Methods of treating tracheitis

Medical means (preparations, medicines, vitamins, medicines) are mentioned for informational purposes only. We do not recommend using them without a doctor's prescription. Recommended reading: " Why can't you take medications without a doctor's prescription?". Traditional treatment of tracheitis is based on non-drug and drug therapy. Non-drug treatment includes the establishment of a rational drinking regimen with increased fluid intake in the form of teas, compotes, fruit drinks, heated alkaline mineral waters without gas, linden tea. The second prerequisite is the complete cessation of smoking by the patient. It is also important to exclude those factors that can provoke a cough in each case, such as dust, smoke, and so on. It is necessary to eat fully, food should be high-calorie and enriched with vitamins. Patients with this pathology are recommended a variety of physiotherapy procedures.

There is no specific drug therapy for viral tracheitis, with the exception of the influenza virus, which is treated with specific anti-influenza drugs. In the case of the bacterial nature of the onset of the pathology - antibiotics, more often in inhalation forms, mucolytics to thin and facilitate sputum discharge, antitussives for painful dry cough, inhalation with alkaline mineral waters to reduce inflammation and facilitate sputum discharge, antipyretics at body temperature above 38 degrees, immunomodulators to stimulate the immune system with frequent exacerbations of the chronic form of tracheitis.

However, it is important to remember that the use of antibiotics in case of a non-bacterial infection is fraught with the development of pathogens of bacterial origin resistant to antibiotics, which can pose a serious threat to the patient. It is also impossible to use mucolytic drugs in combination with antitussives, since liquefied sputum in this case will stagnate in the bronchi, which can cause the development of pneumonia.

How to avoid the disease

Preventive measures for tracheitis can be methods aimed at preventing ARVI, hypothermia, contact with dirty air. Timely vaccination with anti-influenza, pneumococcal and anti-hemophilic vaccines helps to prevent the development of tracheitis. Vaccination is indicated for representatives of the so-called "risk group" for tracheitis - the elderly, patients with immunodeficiency conditions, chronic pulmonary pathologies, cardiovascular problems, diabetes mellitus. The best time to get vaccinated is from October to mid-November, as later the effectiveness of the vaccine may decrease due to the increased likelihood of contacts at the moment, which will lead to a decrease in the sufficiency of the immune response.

Also, for the prevention of tracheitis, you can take drugs that stimulate the immune system throughout the autumn-winter period. This is especially useful for those who are prone to frequent respiratory diseases or suffer from chronic tracheitis.

Contraindications for tracheitis

There are a number of contraindications in the treatment of tracheitis. For example, with tracheitis with an unproductive cough, expectorant and mucolytic drugs are not recommended. Also, you can not combine the intake of expectorant drugs with cough suppressants.

In the acute period of tracheitis, it is not recommended to resort to thermal and warming procedures. A physiotherapeutic effect in this pathology is possible only if the disease has entered the recovery phase, and residual symptoms remain.

Incorrectly chosen treatment can provoke the occurrence of complications, in the form of bronchitis, pneumonia, as well as neoplasms, therefore, with tracheitis (and indeed with any cough), therapy should be selected exclusively by the attending physician after a physical examination.

Nutrition rules

The text is for informational purposes only. We urge you not to use diets, do not resort to any medical menus and fasting without medical supervision. Recommended reading: " Why you can't go on a diet on your own". A certain diet for tracheitis will also help speed up recovery. To help the body fight infection, it is important to increase the percentage of animal protein foods and reduce the amount of carbohydrates in the diet. On the basis of carbohydrates, a favorable environment is formed for the growth of various pathogenic microorganisms, which complicates any inflammatory process, including tracheitis.

Diet food should be high in calories and fortified. Cooking food is required by steaming or by boiling. It is very important to drink a lot. The daily amount of fluid consumed should reach one and a half to two liters. Such a volume of liquid can be formed by water, teas, compotes, soups, juices. It will be most useful for this pathology to eat wheat crackers, soups on vegetable or low-fat meat broths, cereals, boiled fish and low-fat meat, low-fat dairy products, eggs, fresh vegetables and fruits. At the same time, you can drink any juices, compotes, decoctions, fruit drinks, kissels, green tea. Decoctions of wild rose or chamomile will be especially useful for tracheitis.

Dangers and consequences

Often, after recovery, in half of the cases, cough persists for a long time. Also, the possibility of the transition of the acute form to the chronic one is not excluded.

Tracheitis is especially dangerous during pregnancy. As with other infectious diseases, pathogens can infect the fetus and cause irreversible reactions and consequences in it. However, if a pathology is detected at the initial stage, it is very easy to cure it, preventing the long-term effect of pathogenic microorganisms on the fetus. That is why pregnant women are always under special care with doctors, they need to carefully monitor their health and be sure to seek help at the slightest change in well-being.

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