You have a runny nose and sore throat, but you’re also coughing a lot, and some of those coughs bring up a lot of mucus. Do you have bronchitis? Let’s talk about how you’re feeling and how you might get better.
What is bronchitis?
Your bronchial tubes carry air to your lungs. They can get infected and swollen, which makes you cough a lot and expel a lot of mucus. There are two types of bronchitis: acute and chronic. Acute bronchitis is most common and usually lasts a few weeks. It is often caused by bacteria or cold and flu viruses. Acute bronchitis is also contagious.
Chronic bronchitis is caused when your lungs are irritated by dust, chemicals, pollution, and cigarette smoke. It lasts for a few months or more and recurs year after year. While it’s not contagious, it is serious.
In rare cases, bronchitis can lead to pneumonia.
What are the symptoms of bronchitis?
In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, you may have shortness of breath or you may make a wheezing sound when you breathe. You may also have the chills, a fever, and feel exhausted. The cough can last for weeks after the rest of your symptoms are gone.
How is bronchitis treated?
Most times, bronchitis goes away on its own. That said, a visit to the doctor can tell if medicine, such as antibiotics, may help. In some cases, such as with people with asthma, a doctor may recommend using an inhaler.
In the meantime, get plenty of rest, drink a lot of water, and use a humidifier or a hot shower to loosen the mucus in your lungs. Over-the-counter pain relievers and cough medicine can help, too.
"Acute bronchitis produces a 'reactive' airway that is typically very sensitive to cold, dry air, or excessive airflow, producing a cough,” CEENTA ENT doctor Darrell Klotz, MD, said. “One of the best things you can do for a case of acute bronchitis is stay out of extremely cold air temperatures, breathe humidified, warmed air via a personal steamer or humidifier, and refrain from any exercise where rapid breathing would exacerbate your situation and cause more coughing.”
How can I avoid bronchitis in the first place?
Make sure your vaccines, especially your flu vaccine, are up to date. Try to avoid people who are sick so you don’t potentially catch anything yourself. Washing your hands and using disinfectant can also help keep you germ-free.
Chronic bronchitis is best helped by avoiding what might be triggering it, such as cigarette smoke or chemicals. If pollution is the cause, and it’s practical to do so, consider moving to a less-polluted area.
When should I visit a doctor for bronchitis?
If you are coughing up blood, you can’t sleep, you have difficulty speaking, chest pain, weight loss, a fever, or shortness of breath, or it lasts more than three weeks, a doctor’s visit is recommended.
Remember, if you have bronchitis, CEENTA’s ENT doctors are here for you.
This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your physician. Dr. Klotz practices in our SouthPark office. To make an appointment with him or any of CEENTA’s ENT doctors, call 704-295-3000. You can also request an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.
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