Bronchitis involves inflammation and irritation of the tubes that transport air to the lungs. Once this occurs, the bronchial tubes become swollen and produce mucus which results to coughing.
Two types of bronchitis
- Acute bronchitis – develops rapidly and settles after 2-3 weeks
- Chronic bronchitis – recurrent and can last for an extended time especially among those who smoke
Most healthy individuals who develop acute bronchitis get better without any issues. Remember that it can be more serious among the elderly and children as well as those who have health issues particularly lung conditions such as COPD or asthma.
Possible causes of acute bronchitis
Acute bronchitis is typically caused by a virus. Oftentimes, an individual develops the acute type a few days after an upper respiratory tract infection such as the flu or common cold. In some instances, bacteria might also be the cause.
It can also occur by breathing in substances that can aggravate the bronchial tubes such as smoke. It can also occur if an individual breathes in food or vomit into the lungs.
The usual symptoms of acute bronchitis include cough that is typically dry and hacking initially. After a few days, the cough might bring up mucus. There is also low fever and tiredness.
Recovery can be achieved in 2-3 weeks. On the other hand, some continue to have cough for more than 4 weeks.
In case the symptoms worsen such as high fever, chest or shoulder pain, shaking chills or shortness of breath, it indicates the development of pneumonia. Remember that this can be serious, thus a doctor must be consulted if one becomes even sicker.
The symptoms of acute bronchitis can be managed at home and there is no need for antibiotics or other prescription medications. Other measures to help the individual feel better include the following:
- Cessation of smoking
- Provide the individual with cough drops or hard candies to soothe a sore or dry throat.
- Allow the individual to inhale moist air from a humidifier, sink filled with hot water or hot shower. The moisture and heat can keep the mucus in the airways moist so that they are easily expelled.
- Utilize non-prescription medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to alleviate the fever and body aches.
- Get more rest
- Increase the intake of fluids to prevent dehydration
- Provide an over-the-counter cough medication if recommended by the doctor.