What causes acute bronchitis?
Acute bronchitis is usually caused by a virus. Often a person gets acute bronchitis a few days after having an upper respiratory tract infection such as a cold or the flu. Sometimes acute bronchitis is caused by bacteria.
Acute bronchitis also can be caused by breathing in things that irritate the bronchial tubes, such as smoke. It also can happen if a person inhales food or vomit into the lungs.
What are the symptoms?
The most common symptom of acute bronchitis is a cough that usually is dry and hacking at first. After a few days, the cough may bring up mucus. You may have a low fever and feel tired.
Most people get better in 2 to 3 weeks. But some people continue to have a cough for more than 4 weeks.
If your symptoms get worse, such as a high fever, shaking chills, chest or shoulder pain, or shortness of breath, you could have pneumonia. Pneumonia can be serious, so it’s important to see a doctor if you feel like you’re getting sicker.
How is it treated?
Most people can treat symptoms of acute bronchitis at home and don’t need antibiotics or other prescription medicines. (Antibiotics don’t help with viral bronchitis. And even bronchitis caused by bacteria will usually go away on its own.)
The following may help you feel better:
- Don’t smoke.
- Suck on cough drops or hard candies to soothe a dry or sore throat. Cough drops won’t stop your cough, but they may make your throat feel better.
- Breathe moist air from a humidifier, a hot shower, or a sink filled with hot water. The heat and moisture can help keep mucus in your airways moist so you can cough it out easily.
- Ask your doctor if you can take nonprescription medicine, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin, to relieve fever and body aches. Don’t give aspirin to anyone younger than age 20. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
- Rest more than usual.
- Drink plenty of fluids so that you do not become dehydrated.
- Use an over-the-counter cough medicine if your doctor recommends it. (Cough medicines may not be safe for young children or for people who have certain health problems.) Cough suppressants may help you to stop coughing. Expectorants can help you bring up mucus when you cough.
- FDA Approved prescription antibiotics
- Consult with AlliMD if you are coughing up yellow/green mucus, feeling fatigued, sore ribs from prolonged coughing, malaise, wheezing, low grade fever, or if your symptoms persist after using OTC medications
- We do not treat patients experiencing high fevers, chest pain or difficulty breathing