Bronchitis is a common respiratory infection that many people contract at some point in their lives. Various things, including viruses, bacteria, or environmental factors, can cause it. Symptoms of bronchitis include coughing, chest congestion, and difficulty breathing. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you must see your doctor immediately to determine if you have bronchitis and get started on the appropriate treatment. Let’s discuss all you need to know about bronchitis: what it is, how to treat it, and how to prevent it from happening again.
Bronchitis and Its Types
An inflammation of the airways entering your lungs is referred to as bronchitis. You cough because your airways (trachea and bronchi) enlarge and fill with mucus when they become inflamed. Your cough may linger for a few days to a few weeks. It’s bronchitis’ primary symptom. There are two types of bronchitis – acute and chronic bronchitis. The most frequent cause of acute bronchitis is viruses. Acute and chronic bronchitis can be brought on by smoke and other irritants.
A viral infection is typically the cause of acute bronchitis, which resolves on its own in a few weeks. Most patients with acute bronchitis don’t require medical attention. If you cough up mucus regularly for three months out of the year, you may have chronic bronchitis. For at least two years, this continues. You might have a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease if you have persistent bronchitis (COPD). Find out from your doctor if you need to get tested for COPD.
How to Diagnose Bronchitis?
When bronchitis initially causes illness, its symptoms are comparable to those of a cold. Medical professionals can determine if someone has bronchitis by questioning patients regarding their symptoms and performing a physical exam. Bronchitis cannot be diagnosed with a specific test, but you may be examined for other diseases. Testing options include nasal swabs for viruses like flu, blood tests for overall health, sputum tests to test your cough for viruses and bacteria, and pulmonary function tests if they suspect chronic bronchitis. Your doctor may request a chest X-ray to rule out pneumonia if you have a fever, even though they infrequently order more tests. (American Lung Association)
Treatment of Acute Bronchitis
Without antibiotics, acute bronchitis typically gets better on its own. Acute bronchitis won’t improve with the use of antibiotics. Antibiotics won’t help you if you don’t need them, and their adverse effects can be dangerous. Side effects vary widely from minor reactions, like a rash, to serious health issues. Acute bronchitis symptoms can be similar to those of other conditions, including whooping cough (pertussis) or pneumonia. If you develop pneumonia or whooping cough, your doctor will recommend antibiotics. (CDC)
It’s important to recognize the signs of bronchitis so you can seek appropriate medical attention as soon as possible. Diagnosis is often based on symptoms and physical exams, but your doctor may also order additional tests to rule out other serious conditions. If you believe you may have bronchitis, you must see a doctor immediately to determine if it is indeed bronchitis and get started on the appropriate treatment. Be sure to follow your doctor’s advice and practice good respiratory hygiene to avoid getting bronchitis.
Bronchitis and the ER
Our ER has everything you need for proper bronchitis diagnosis. From on-site labs and radiology, we can get your diagnosis started within 10 minutes and get you proper medication from our pharmacy. A Board-Certified ER Physician will be your doctor and give you personalized care. Our testing processes take minutes, not hours. Welcome to a higher level of care!
“Bronchitis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment.” Cleveland Clinic, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/3993-bronchitis.
Association, American Lung. “Acute Bronchitis Symptoms, Causes & Risk Factors.” American Lung Association, www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/bronchitis/symptoms-diagnosis-treatment.
“Chest Cold (Acute Bronchitis).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 July 2021, www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/bronchitis.html.