It is important to note that acute bronchitis involves the inflammation of the bronchial tubes. These are the tubes that transport air to the lungs. This condition is a common complication of the flu, common cold and other upper respiratory infections.
Most often, this condition is triggered by a virus just like with illnesses that precede it. Occasionally, acute bronchitis can be caused by bacteria. Take note that chronic bronchitis is a different condition characterized by lasting inflammation and irritation of the bronchial tubes.
Duration of bronchitis
Most cases of acute bronchitis typically last between 3-10 days. Nevertheless, the cough has the tendency to linger for several weeks, even after the infection that caused it is already gone.
In case the cough lasts for more than a month to 6 weeks after diagnosis, a doctor should be consulted. If the symptoms improve and recur in a worsened state or different from the usual ones, another infection developed and this requires medical attention.
Symptoms of acute bronchitis
- Cough which is usually productive
- Low grade fever
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Shortness of breath
If the individual suspects that he/she has bronchitis, a doctor should be consulted for proper diagnosis and start the appropriate treatment. In most cases, bronchitis does not require treatment with antibiotics, but if the cause is bacteria, antibiotics are usually prescribed by the doctor. In case the symptoms are different, it might be a different condition.
Pneumonia can cause similar symptoms but usually includes a painful cough and high fever. It is vital to consult a doctor for proper diagnosis if the individual believes that he/she has either bronchitis or pneumonia.
What to expect with bronchitis?
If an individual is diagnosed with acute bronchitis, the symptoms are expected to last for about a week or so with cough that persists for several weeks after. The doctor will not prescribe antibiotics since the condition is typically caused by a virus.
Take note that the treatment is usually based on providing relief to the symptoms experienced by the individual which includes the following.
- Adequate rest
- Increased intake of fluids
- Utilize a humidifier or steam treatment to moisturize the airways and relieve the swelling
- In case of wheezing, an inhaler is usually prescribed by the doctor to open up the airway to facilitate better breathing
- Medications to help relieve the cough. These are prescribed if cough is frequent and persistent as well as disrupting with sleep or daily activities of the individual.
Take note that suppressing the cough can lead to further infections if the body could not clear up and bring up the mucus out of the system.
Due to the similarity of the signs and symptoms of bronchitis with other respiratory conditions, it is vital to consult a doctor for proper assessment of the condition.