Winning the Battle Against Bronchitis

In medical terms, it’s usually called ‘acute bronchitis.’ But most people who experience this condition—and millions of Americans each year do—simply call it a ‘chest cold.’ It’s that deep, mucus-producing cough that just won’t seem to go away.

While infected with bronchitis, the lining of the bronchial tubes, which perform the all-important task of carrying oxygen in and out of the lungs, become inflamed. This inflammation is most often caused by any number of viruses, including the flu, though sometimes a bacterial infection is the culprit. Regardless, a bronchitis infection typically lasts 10 days to 14 days with some symptoms possibly lingering even longer.

What’s Causing Your Cough?

Developing a cough can be scarier these days due to the prevalence of COVID-19, and the tell-tale symptom of bronchitis is a cough. But usually the cough associated with bronchitis is a ‘productive’ cough—one that produces mucus of any color. On the other hand, most COVID-19 patients will only experience a dry cough.

Other potential symptoms associated with bronchitis include:

  • Tiredness
  • Chest congestion and discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Minor fever
  • Chills
  • Minor headaches/body aches

Acute bronchitis usually goes away on its own after a couple of weeks. Over-the-counter cough and congestion medications may help lessen some of the symptoms and aid those suffering in finding sleep otherwise lost to coughing fits.

Time to Get Care for that Cough

There are some less common but more serious symptoms associated with bronchitis that require emergent care.

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Fever of 100.5˚ F or higher
  • Symptoms lasting more than three weeks
  • Inability to sleep due to coughing

Without treatment, it is possible for bronchitis to turn into pneumonia, which may lead to hospitalization. That’s why finding care fast at The Emergency Center is important in diagnosing and treating the condition should any of these infrequent symptoms occur.

Tests—including chest X-rays, pulmonary function tests and sputum tests on mucus from the lungs—can determine if it is in fact acute bronchitis or another condition. Antibiotics can be prescribed for cases of bronchitis caused by a bacterial infection. Other medications, such as a rescue inhaler, can help open up the lungs.

Reducing the Risk

There are a number of illnesses that can lead to bronchitis, but not everything is out of a patient’s control. There are certain circumstances that can increase the chances of getting this uncomfortable condition.

  • Individuals with frequent heartburn are more at risk due to the irritation it causes in the throat.
  • Smoke from cigarettes can increase the incidence of bronchitis.
  • Regularly working with certain chemicals and other inhaled irritants put some individuals at a heightened risk.

In addition to triggering attacks of acute bronchitis, these factors also can lead to increased risk of chronic bronchitis, which can be an indicator of the more serious chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The airways perform one of the body’s most vital functions, making keeping them clear of bronchitis important to breathing easy. If a cough just won’t clear up at home or is accompanied by any more serious symptoms, The Emergency Center can help.

Enjoy life. We’ll be here for the bumps along the way.
 

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The Emergency Center

San Antonio
11320 Alamo Ranch Pkwy
San Antonio, TX 78253

Phone: 210-485-3644