Bronchitis is an inflammation of the airways in the lungs. It is a nagging illness that affects an estimated 8.7 million adults in the U.S. each year. As we breathe, air flows through the main tubes in the lungs, known as bronchi, into even smaller tubes known as bronchioles. Any time these tubes become inflamed, bronchitis develops.
Occasionally the common cold can progress into bronchitis when the lung’s airways become inflamed and create too much mucus.
Those who smoke, or live with someone that smokes, are at a higher risk of developing it. Also, anyone who is exposed to irritants, such as grains, textiles or chemical toxins, while at work each day runs a greater risk of getting sick.Find a CareNow Urgent Care near you
If you are trying to recover from a cold, but a frequent mucus-producing cough persists, this could be a sign of bronchitis. Other symptoms may include a lack of energy, shortness of breath, slight fever and chills and chest discomfort.
Acute bronchitis usually starts suddenly and resolves spontaneously within a few weeks. It is characterized by a hacking cough and phlegm. Typically, acute bronchitis is brought on by a viral or bacterial infection in the upper respiratory tract. In healthy people, this condition is rarely severe.
Chronic bronchitis is most often caused by smoking and is characterized as developing the illness for two or three months every year. Acute bronchitis is more common and develops when the cough from a cold worsens after the other cold symptoms have gone away. Here’s more information about symptoms and how to know when to contact a doctor at a CareNow for treatment.
Chronic bronchitis is defined as a cough with production of mucus, which lasts for at least a 3-month period for a minimum of two consecutive years. This prolonged inflammation is associated with a lot of airway swelling which can lead to constriction and/or blockage. Normally, this is the result of damage to the lungs from an underlying medical condition or from smoking. There are a number of ways to treat chronic bronchitis, all of which require a licensed medical professional.
Bronchitis Vs. Pneumonia
It is easy to confuse bronchitis and pneumonia as the symptoms are very similar. Pneumonia is an infection in the lungs. Pneumonia shares a lot of the same symptoms with bronchitis with a few more additions. Generally someone with pneumonia will feel much worse than someone with bronchitis.
Anyone can suffer from pneumonia. However, it can be a more serious condition in patients at the extremes of age, such as the very young and the very old, or patients with other medical conditions. There are several types of pneumonia. Doctors use antibiotics to treat bacterial pneumonia. You should always consult a healthcare professional for a diagnosis and the best way to treat it.
Whatever the case is though, you’ll need lots of rest. Thousands of Americans die from pneumonia every year. It’s is a serious illness that requires time to recover from.
If you have sought medical care for your bronchitis symptoms, he or she will likely listen to your lungs with a stethoscope as you breathe. In some instances, your doctor may recommend a chest X-ray, sputum test or pulmonary function test.
The chest X-ray, which is especially important for those that smoke or have smoked in the past, can help establish if you have pneumonia or another illness causing your symptoms. Sputum, the mucus you cough up from your lungs, can be tested to determine if you have any illnesses that may be treated by an antibiotic. A sputum test is also a great way to test for allergies. Finally, the pulmonary test is meant to measure the amount of air your lungs is capable of holding. This will help diagnose issues such as asthma or emphysema.
After a visit to a CareNow® clinic you should take care of yourself in order to heal quickly. Rest and drink plenty of fluids unless your doctor restricts fluid intake. Ease body aches and pains by taking over-the-counter pain relievers. Follow the instructions from your doctor to help clear away mucus and report the frequency of your coughing episodes to your doctor so he or she can help you as much as possible.
Drinking plenty of fluids, taking over-the-counter medications and getting plenty of rest can usually help to treat acute bronchitis. If you are typically a smoker, or live with someone that smokes, you should stay away from smoke and other lung irritants. Because warm, moist air can help alleviate coughing and help to loosen mucus, using a humidifier at night can also be helpful. Finally, if you’re planning to be outside while you’re suffering from symptoms, you should consider a facemask. Cold air can actually aggravate your cough, causing shortness of breath.
To prevent bronchitis in the future, it’s important to wash your hands regularly. If possible, try to get vaccinated each year as well since the flu can cause this illness to develop. Finally, the best way to keep from getting sick is by avoiding cigarette smoke as much as you can.
CareNow® Can Help Treat Bronchitis
If you notice any symptoms after other cold symptoms have dissipated, we recommend you seek medical attention as soon as possible. You may believe the cough will run its course, which it might; however, if the fever and coughing is persistent or you have shortness of breath, don’t hesitate to contact a doctor.
If your bronchitis is preventing you from sleeping, accompanied by a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher or producing blood or discolored mucus, you should also seek medical attention immediately.
If you are suffering from symptoms that are not life threatening but need urgent attention, consider calling your local CareNow®.
Be sure to check in online to avoid the waiting room!
Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you.