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Bronchitis

What is bronchitis? 

Bronchitis is an infection that causes a cough. It happens when the tubes that carry air into the lungs, called the “bronchi,” get infected .

Usually, bronchitis happens after a person gets a cold or the flu. The viruses that cause the cold or flu infect the bronchi and irritate them. People often wonder if taking antibiotics will help with their bronchitis. In most cases the answer is no, because it is usually caused by a virus. Antibiotics kill bacteria, not viruses. However, if you are older than 60 years old and symptoms do not improve you should be further evaluated.

 

What are the symptoms of bronchitis? 

The most common symptoms of bronchitis are:

A nagging cough that can last up to a few weeks

Coughing up mucus that is clear, yellow, or green – Some people think green mucus means you have a bacterial infection. But this is not always true.

You might also have normal cold or flu symptoms, like a stuffy nose, sore throat, or headache. People with bronchitis do not usually get a fever.

When should I go see a  doctor? 

Most of the time if you are getting progressively worse and  you are suffering from  a combination of any of the symptoms listed below you should be further evaluated. Unfortunately every year more and more people are dying from symptoms stemming from the flu/cold.  So if you cannot see your primary care come by one of our SIX LOCATIONS.

A fever higher than 100.4°F (38°C)

Chest pain when you cough, trouble breathing, or coughing up blood

A barking cough that makes it hard to talk

A cough and weight loss that you cannot explain

Is there a test for bronchitis? 

People do not usually need a test. The doctor might do a test, such as a chest X-ray and blood work to check you for an infection.

How is bronchitis treated? 

Bronchitis almost always goes away on its own, although it can take a few weeks.  However, it is not uncommon that we will treat you with a series of antibiotic.  Even though bronchitis is usually caused by a virus, and antibiotics kill bacteria, not viruses.  We have experienced that the majority of patient over the age of 60 years old get worse symptoms and end up in the hospital on antibiotic anyway.  So we listen to your lungs, take your vital signs and watch you progress.

To feel better, you can treat your cold and flu symptoms. Different treatments you can try include:

Getting lots of rest and drinking plenty of liquids

Drinking hot tea

Sucking on cough drops or hard candy

●AVOID over-the-counter cough and cold medicines.

Breathing in warm, moist air, such as in the shower, over a kettle, or from a humidifier

Taking a pain-relieving medicine if you have cold or flu symptoms like headache, muscle aches, or joint pain

It’s also important to avoid smoking or being around others who smoke. This can make your cough worse.

How can I keep from getting bronchitis again? 

You can reduce your chance of getting bronchitis again by keeping the germs that cause bronchitis out of your body. One of the best ways to do this is to wash your hands often with soap and water. If there is no sink nearby, you can use a hand gel with alcohol in it to clean your hands.

How can I keep from spreading my germs? 

In addition to washing your hands often, you should cover your mouth with your elbow when you sneeze or cough. Using your elbow keeps you from getting germs on your hands. If you use a tissue, throw the tissue away and wash your hands.