Respiratory infections often present with a lot of the same symptoms that it might be difficult to tell the difference between a cold, flu, or bronchitis. Bronchitis is a respiratory infection that causes inflammation within the lining of the lungs. The presence of inflammation can make it difficult for air to pass into and out of the lungs.
Wondering if you might have bronchitis? Here are the warning signs,
- Productive cough
- Coughing up yellow, greyish, or green mucus
- Mild fever
- Chest discomfort
- Shortness of breath
One of the telltale indicators that you have bronchitis is if you had symptoms that seemed like a cold but once the cold symptoms cleared up you still dealt with a persistent and productive cough. It can take weeks for this cough to clear up; however, while many acute cases of bronchitis will clear up on their own, if your cough lasts more than three weeks, or if you start coughing up blood you must see your doctor right away.
What can cause chronic bronchitis?
If you’re dealing with a productive cough that lasts up to three months a year for two straight years, this is known as chronic bronchitis. Since those with chronic bronchitis are more at risk for developing bacterial lung infections, you must turn to your ENT doctor for immediate and long-term treatment and management of your condition. The most common cause of chronic bronchitis is smoking.
How is bronchitis treated?
Most treatment options for acute bronchitis are focused on symptom relief until the infection goes away. This includes,
- Resting as much as possible
- Getting enough fluids and staying hydrated
- Avoiding environmental toxins, pollutants, and irritants (e.g., cigarette smoke)
- Taking pain relievers to ease aches and pains
- Taking a cough suppressant or an expectorant to break up the mucus
Your doctor may also prescribe a bronchodilator (a medication that asthmatics use) to open up the inflamed airways to improve breathing. If you have chronic bronchitis some of the ways to manage this condition include,
- Quitting smoking, especially if that’s the cause of your bronchitis
- Getting the flu and pneumococcal vaccine each year
- Using bronchodilators or inhaled steroid medications, if prescribed by your doctor
If in doubt about the symptoms you’re feeling call your general doctor today. They can easily determine whether you may need to come in for further evaluation. While bronchitis typically goes away on its own, it’s important to see a doctor if your symptoms make it difficult to breathe or if symptoms last up to 3-4 weeks.