Often progressing from a traditional cold or upper respiratory infection, bronchitis is a form of chest infection that inflames the bronchial tubes located in the upper part of the chest that take in air when you breathe in and out. In most cases, bronchitis is caused by viruses, so antibiotics are not an effective treatment.
When you have bronchitis, your airways become swollen and produce excess mucus, leading to chest soreness, excessive coughing, and increased breathing difficulty. If you think you might have bronchitis, read on to learn about the symptoms, prevention, and treatment.
Bronchitis symptoms generally can last up to three weeks. The following symptoms are most common:
You should consult a physician about symptoms related to bronchitis if you have any of the following medical conditions or habits, as they could lead to more severe complications:
Washing your hands regularly with soap and warm water is the best way to prevent sickness and the spread of germs. Avoiding smoking and vaping also helps prevent bronchitis.
Bronchitis can progress from a cold or respiratory infection. Take steps to combat other infections by taking an over-the-counter decongestant or using saline nasal drops when you have a cold. In addition to eliminating obvious irritants, like smoke, avoid irritants such as:
Typically, bronchitis is treated with over-the-counter cough medications as well as plenty of rest and fluids. Since bronchitis is most often caused by a virus and not bacteria, it is not treated with antibiotics. If wheezing is a prominent symptom, an asthma inhaler may be prescribed. It is important to stay well hydrated with increased water intake and the use of a vaporizer.
Most bronchitis infections clear up within 7 to 10 days; however, a dry cough can persist for a few weeks. A persistent or increasing fever, a continuing productive cough, an increase in shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, and persistent wheezing or other chest sounds may be symptoms of pneumonia. Seek further medical attention if any of the following occurs:
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