Around 9.3 million American adults were diagnosed with chronic bronchitis in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And without proper treatment, bronchitis can be more severe than coughing up mucus. That’s why Nurse Practitioner Tamara Washington treats acute and chronic bronchitis at Elite NP Clinic in DeSoto, Texas. Learn more about your respiratory health: Call or request your appointment with Nurse Washington online today.
What is bronchitis?
Bronchitis involves the inflammation of the lining of your bronchial tubes that carry air to and from your lungs. The hallmark symptom of bronchitis is coughing up a thickened, discolored mucus.
Bronchitis can be chronic or acute and often develops from a cold or respiratory infection. It’s chronic if it lasts for more than three months and recurs in flares for at least two consecutive years.
Acute bronchitis is often referred to as a chest cold and usually improves within seven to 10 days. A cough can sometimes linger for a few weeks after the cold has gone.
If you experience bronchitis frequently and it’s impacting your life, you might have chronic bronchitis and require medical attention. Chronic bronchitis can be an indicator of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
What are the symptoms of bronchitis?
For acute or chronic bronchitis, the symptoms can include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chills and mild fever
- Discomfort and pain in the chest
- Frequently producing mucus that’s often discolored or streaked with blood
Acute bronchitis might come along with cold symptoms like muscle aches, a mild headache, and sinus congestion.
What causes bronchitis?
Acute bronchitis is typically caused by viruses, including the viruses that cause colds and the flu. Air pollution and toxic gases or dust in the environment can also contribute, along with cigarette smoking.
Factors that increase your risk of bronchitis include:
- Suppressed immune system
- Frequent exposure to irritants, such as chemical fumes in the workplace
- Gastric reflux (repeated bouts of heartburn irritate your throat)
Repeated bouts of bronchitis can even lead to pneumonia in some people.
What are the treatments for bronchitis?
Antibiotics can treat bacterial infections, but not viral infections. Pulmonary rehabilitation, cough medicine, and other medications — such as an anti-inflammatory and an inhaler — might also be advisable.
At home, you could try using a humidifier or consider wearing a face mask while outside or working near chemical fumes.