Bronchitis – Diagnosis and Home Treatments
Bronchitis refers to the active inflammation of the bronchial tubes that deliver the air from your windpipe to the lungs.
When the inflammation occurs suddenly, we call it acute bronchitis, which is characterized by coughing, dyspnea (i.e., shortness of breath), and low-grade fever.
The duration of acute bronchitis is usually under 10 days; however, the coughing may persist for several weeks.
In this article, we are going to cover the signs and symptoms of bronchitis, as well as the current treatments.
The causes of bronchitis
The vast majority of bronchitis cases are the result of a viral infection that spreads from the upper respiratory tract (i.e., nose, pharynx, larynx) to the bronchial tubes.
You may have a higher risk of bronchitis if you are:
- An active smoker
- Recently exposed to a viral or bacterial infection
- Diagnosed with asthma or allergy
In the case of chronic bronchitis, it usually results from the repeated irritation of the lung tissues and airways. The classic culprit for chronic bronchitis is smoking, which could develop into chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (insert the link of the COPD article).
Signs and symptoms of bronchitis
In general, bronchitis starts with flu-like symptoms that include:
- Fever of 100°F to 100.4°F (37.7°C to 38°C)
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Back and muscle pain
After this infection, patients develop a cough, which is usually dry at first. The dry cough often becomes productive (i.e., produces mucus) – this is a classic symptom of acute bronchitis.
Acute bronchitis generally resolves within a few weeks; however, If you develop any of the following symptoms, you should call your doctor for further evaluation:
- Unexplained weight loss
- A barking type of cough
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- High fever
- A persistent cough that lasts more than 10 days
Treatment of bronchitis
Since acute bronchitis is most likely caused by a viral infection, your doctor doesn’t have a lot of treatment options.
In fact, home remedies are enough to treat acute bronchitis.
Here is what you can do about acute bronchitis at home:
- Take over-the-counter drugs (e.g., ibuprofen, naproxen)
- Get a humidifier to moisturize the air
- Drink plenty of water
- Make some tea or ginger beverage
- Consume dark honey
In severe cases of bronchitis, antibiotics may be appropriate. However, this is only effective if you develop a bacterial infection over your preexisting infection.
Make sure to speak with your doctor before trying any unconventional home remedy.
Bronchitis is extremely common in the pediatric population, with millions of children infected every year.
The treatments for this condition are usually symptomatic and can be done at home. However, if the patient develops severe symptoms, he/she may be a candidate for more robust therapies that include oxygenation, antibiotics, and antiviral drugs (rarely necessary).
We hope that this article explained the basic concepts of bronchitis and how you can treat it at home.