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Bronchitis

What is Bronchitis?

Bronchitis occurs when the tubes carrying air in your lungs become inflamed or irritated. Acute bronchitis is usually caused by viruses, typically the same viruses that cause colds and flu (infuenza). Antibiotics don't kill viruses, so this type of medication isn't useful in most cases of bronchitis.

Bronchitis Symptoms

Many of the symptoms of bronchitis are due to the body trying to clear the bronchial tubes. Such symptoms include:

  • Cough
  • Mucus or Phlegm
  • Fatigue
  • Chills or fever
  • Chest discomfort/soreness (often due to frequent coughing)

Symptoms of acute bronchitis normally improve with an few days, although a nagging cough may linger for a few weeks. Those suffering from chronic bronchitis have symptoms lasting for month and experience repeated episodes of bronchitis.

How Do You Treat Bronchitis?

Many times acute bronchitis will go away on its own, without medical treatment. However, depending on the type of bronchitis and severity of your symptoms, the physician may prescribe medications such as:

  • Cough syrup
  • Antibiotics
  • Other medications to keep lung passages open and reduce inflammation
  • Breathing exercises

Should I See A Doctor for My Bronchitis?

Depending on the severity of your symptoms and/or risk factors a visit to the doctor may be a good idea. Although uncommon, bronchitis can lead to pneumonia so it's important to be evaluated. Additionally, it's recommended to visit the doctor if:

  • You have a cough lasting more than 3 weeks
  • Your cough prevents you from sleeping well
  • You have a fever over 100 F
  • You have blood when you cough
  • Your mucus is discolored
  • You are experiencing shortness of breath or wheezing

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How to avoid bronchitis?

Acute bronchitis is normally caused by the same viruses that cause the flu and a cold, so take similar precautions as you would to protect yourself from these illnesses including:

  • Frequent hand washing
  • Covering your cough
  • Avoiding close contact with ill people

Chronic bronchitis is triggered by personal lifestyle choices and environmental factors including smoking, air pollution, irritant exposure at work, severe heartburn, and more.

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