Many cases of acute bronchitis are caused by viruses and do not benefit from antibiotic treatment. Acute means that the illness comes on suddenly (over a couple of days) rather than developing over a long period of time. Bronchitis simply means infection or inflammation of the bronchi, which are the airways into the lungs. Sometimes the bronchitis is caused by bacterial infection or there is a secondary bacterial infection as well as the viral infection. In these cases your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. If your infection is viral you can take pain relievers or cough medicines to ease the symptoms. See the NHS Direct or Netdoctor websites for more details.