What is acute bronchitis?
Acute bronchitis is an infection of the tubes that carry air from the mouth and nose to the lungs also known as the bronchial tree. Once infected, these tubes swell and mucous forms. The swelling makes breathing difficult and may also result in wheezing.
What causes acute bronchitis?
Acute bronchitis is usually caused by viruses that infect the bronchial tree. These same viruses can cause infections to the throat and nose. Viruses attack the lining of the bronchial tree, causing damage. As your body fights back against these viruses, more swelling occurs and more mucus is made. Even after the body kills off the viruses, damage caused by the virus may last longer than the infection. Anything that causes further damage to the bronchial tree, such as cigarette smoking, will lengthen the time it takes for you to get better.
How do people get acute bronchitis?
Acute bronchitis is spread from person to person by coughing or from touching surfaces that has the virus. The viruses that cause the infection are sprayed into the air or onto people’s hands when they cough.
Acute bronchitis is more likely to develop in lungs that are damaged or unhealthy from things such as smoking cigarettes or being around damaging fumes. People who smoke are more likely to have longer lasting symptoms.
What tests can tell my doctor if I have acute bronchitis?
There are no tests to prove that you have acute bronchitis. An X-ray may be obtained to make sure you don’t have a more serious condition.
How is acute bronchitis treated?
Acute bronchitis is caused by viruses, so antibiotics (medicines that kill bacteria) are not helpful. Mucous that is colored or thick does not mean antibiotics are necessary. Antibiotics probably won’t help you get better any faster.
An inhaler may help in some patients to expand the bronchial tree and ease breathing.
Smoking plays a major harmful role in lung function and should be stopped or cut down if you have bronchitis.
What special problems can occur with acute bronchitis?
Sometimes the cough from acute bronchitis lasts for several weeks. The cough can even drag on for months. Usually this happens because the bronchial tubes are taking a long time to heal. However, the cough may also be a sign of other problems.
Acute bronchitis can be confused with asthma. If you continue to wheeze and cough, especially at night or when you are active, you could have mild asthma. If your cough and wheezing problems drag on, your doctor may want you to take some breathing tests to check for asthma.
Pneumonia and acute bronchitis can sometimes cause similar symptoms. If you have a high fever, feel very sick and weak, and continue to cough, you should call your doctor. You may need to have a chest x-ray to check for pneumonia.
Bronchitis can also be caused by acid coming up from the stomach and dripping into the lungs when you sleep. If your cough continues and you sometimes have a bad-tasting fluid come up into your mouth, you should see your doctor. Medicines can reduce the acid in your stomach, which may help your cough go away.
When should I see my doctor?
If your cough is causing wheezing and breathing problems, dysfunction in your daily life or sleeping habits, you should see a medical professional to assess for other causes of cough.
How can I keep from getting acute bronchitis again?
If you smoke cigarettes, stop smoking. Smoking damages the bronchial tree and makes it easier for viruses to cause infection. Smoking also slows down the healing time, so that it takes longer to get well.
At Life Savers Emergency Room, we are fully equipped to diagnose appendicitis with our on site laboratory and CT scanner. We have radiology services on call 24/7 as well as surgical specialists on call for your care. For contact give us call on 8322934968.