Acute Versus Chronic Bronchitis
Posted on Feb 07, 2017 2017-10-04T13:50:40+00:00 0 Infections, Lung Disease Emergency Medical Care
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Bronchitis is a common respiratory condition which can cause temporary or chronic illness. Most people will develop acute bronchitis at some point in their lives. Let’s look at the in’s and outs of acute and chronic bronchitis:

What is Acute Bronchitis?

Bronchitis is a condition marked by inflammation of the lining of the airways (bronchial tubes). Bronchitis triggers the production of more mucus in the airways which leads to a productive cough. It is usually acute (comes on quickly and intensely but only lasts for a short period of time), but can also be a chronic condition.

What Causes it?

Acute bronchitis is most often viral and develops when germs from a cold are left behind and make their way past the cilia (the hair-like structures on the mucus membrane that help filter out harmful particles) and down into your lungs. Few cases of acute bronchitis are bacterial by nature. Antibiotics will only help those few cases, taking antibiotics will not help with viral bronchitis and may contribute to antimicrobial resistance.

What are the symptoms of bronchitis?

  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath or tightness in chest
  • A dry or productive cough
  • Excess mucus production
  • Feeling of general malaise
  • Mild chills or fever
  • Headache
  • Fatigue

Things You Can Do to Help Acute Bronchitis

  • Drink plenty of fluids to help thin out the mucus and make it easier to pass through the system
  • Give your body plenty of rest
  • Inhale steam (sometimes with essential oils like peppermint) to help get the mucus off your chest
  • Take OTC medications like NSAIDS to help control any fever that may be present (never give children Aspirin)

Chronic Bronchitis

Chronic bronchitis is characterized by a mucus-producing cough and related symptoms that last longer than 3 months. In cases of chronic bronchitis, inflammation of the respiratory tract is persistent and never resolves itself completely. Over 80% of cases are caused by smoking or long-term second hand exposure to smoke. In other cases, long-term exposure to chemical irritants or heavy pollution may cause chronic bronchitis (which is a subtype of COPD).

Treatment for Bronchitis

Treatment for bronchitis depends on your doctor’s evaluation of the nature of your bronchitis. Someone who gets bronchitis frequently, has moderate trouble breathing or has a comorbid lung condition may be prescribed corticosteroids like prednisone to help clear the inflammation in their lungs more quickly. If a doctor suspects your bronchitis is bacterial by nature, he or she may prescribe antibiotics. A doctor may also prescribe a temporary puffer. Some cases of bronchitis resolve themselves.

What are the symptoms of bronchitis?

  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath or tightness in chest
  • A dry or productive cough
  • Excess mucus production
  • Feeling of general malaise
  • Mild chills or fever
  • Headache
  • Fatigue

When to Visit the Doc

If you’ve recently had a cold and it seems to have migrated to your lungs, you should check with a doctor as you may have bronchitis. Or if you have a nagging cough and are producing mucus, it may be time to check in as well. Anything that seems to extend beyond the normal course of a cold for you is worth checking out! Thanks for visiting EMC!