When the lining of the bronchial tubes (tubes carrying air to and from the lungs) gets inflamed, this can cause bronchitis. There are two types of bronchitis: chronic and acute. Chronic bronchitis is persistent and usually takes longer to heal completely, whereas acute bronchitis generally clears up faster. Acute bronchitis also develops due to viral infection, though it may also develop due to bacterial infection. In contrast, chronic bronchitis is often caused by smoking tobacco as well as exposure to air pollution, dust, or toxic fumes.
However, to learn whether bronchitis is bacterial or viral, the mucus or sputum from a cough can be visually examined. White or clear mucus often indicates a viral infection, whereas green or yellow mucus may suggest a bacterial infection.
Types of bronchitis
- Acute bronchitis- Is usually caused by a viral infection and is very common. Many cases of acute bronchitis can get better within several days. However, it can get worse by smoking. Acute bronchitis could last for 10 to 14 days and cause symptoms for three weeks. This form of bronchitis generally occurs in kids under five years old. People are more vulnerable to the disease in winter (colder weather) due to the common cold or sore throats that can easily progress into bronchitis.
- Chronic bronchitis Is a cough productive of sputum and can persist for three months out of the year for at least two consecutive years. Initially, the inflammation and cough may be caused by respiratory illness or infection, constant exposure to tobacco smoke, or other harmful substances in the air. Furthermore, chronic bronchitis can obstruct airflow. This is grouped under the term Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
What are the symptoms of bronchitis?
The symptoms of bronchitis may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Lack of energy
- Constant coughing
- Mucus production
- Fever (potential symptom)
- Wheezing sound when breathing (potential symptom)
- Body aches
- Sore throat
How do I prevent bronchitis?
- Avoid smoking.
- If possible, request others to refrain from smoking in your home.
- Avoid being around things that can irritate your airways. Such irritants may include mold, smoke, cleaners, etc.
- Wash your hands with water and soap. Use a hand sanitizer that contains alcohol if you cannot use soap and water.
- Make sure that you’re up to date on pneumonia and flu vaccines.
- Get plenty of rest if you catch a cold.
- Follow the doctor’s instructions and take medicines accordingly.
- Have a healthy diet.
How do I treat bronchitis?
The treatment depends on what type of bronchitis you have.
The treatment can be different if you have chronic bronchitis, as COPD is not curable. However, the symptoms can be treated by oxygen therapy, drugs, pulmonary rehabilitation, surgery, or a combination of these treatments. Your doctor may prescribe a device for clearing mucus, known as an airway clearance device, to help bring the mucus up without any difficulty.
For acute bronchitis, you may not require any treatment. However, you can use over-the-counter drugs that treat fever or break up mucus.
Chronic bronchitis is a persistent condition, whereas acute bronchitis usually resolves automatically within a few days. However, consult a doctor if you have concerns about the possible symptoms.
If you are concerned that you may have bronchitis symptoms, visit us at 8-2-8 Urgent Care, a renowned walk-in Center in Oceanside, CA, for bronchitis treatment. Our experienced medical team can effectively treat bronchitis and several related conditions.