What is Bronchitis?

There are two types of bronchitis: Acute and chronic. Both happen when the bronchial tubes, or the tubes that transport air to the lungs, are inflamed. Symptoms include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Coughing
  • Overproduction of mucus
  • Mild fever
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing (Most common in people with asthma)

Acute bronchitis is the most common type of bronchitis, caused by a virus, and normally, lasts up to a week. Acute bronchitis mostly forms after having the flu or a cold or experiencing flu and cold like symptoms. Though uncomfortable, acute bronchitis is often harmless, and goes away on its own.

Chronic bronchitis includes the same exact symptoms, but lasts for three months or longer. Most often, chronic bronchitis is caused by air pollution, which often includes cigarette smoke.    

How to Treat and Prevent Bronchitis.

Acute bronchitis does not require much medication. Antibiotics do not work on bronchitis because it is a viral infection. For most people, getting better is just a matter of waiting it out. But, there are ways to help lessen the symptoms, including:

  • Drinking fluids and resting
  • Using over-the counter medications such as cough and mucus suppressants.
  • Using a humidifier
  • Using a prescribed inhaler (if you have asthma)
  • Taking aspirin (if you experience mild fever)  

When sick, it is important to avoid pollutants such as cigarette smoke. Smoking with acute bronchitis often leads to chronic bronchitis.

If you have a chronic illness (especially heart or lung diseases, including asthma), your cough lasts for over a week, or you are experiencing chest pain, high fever, a mild fever for up to three days, chills, or blood when you cough, contact or visit your doctor.

To avoid spreading and contracting bronchitis, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly throughout the day and avoid touching your face, especially around the mouth and eyes. Getting vaccinated against the flu also greatly diminishes the chances of contracting bronchitis.  

What to do When Your Cough Persist/ Other Coughing Illnesses

If your cough persists, then it may be a sign of chronic bronchitis. It is imperative that you visit a doctor if your cough continues for over a week. Often, self diagnoses are wrong, and bronchitis is often mistaken for allergies, asthma, or pneumonia. The main difference between bronchitis and pneumonia is that pneumonia has stronger symptoms and can become severe. To learn more about pneumonia, visit our article here.