Breathe Easy: A Guide to Bronchitis

Breathe Easy: A Guide to Bronchitis

Are you suffering from a persistent cough?

Do you have a low-grade fever, a sore throat, or a blocked sinus cavity? If any of the above is the case, you may be suffering from bronchitis. Our helpful guide to bronchitis can hopefully allow you to decide if and when you need to see a doctor.

You will also be able to know exactly what you can expect when you see a doctor.

Read on for further valuable information about the illness and how it may progress over time.

What Is Bronchitis

Bronchitis is a viral infection, not a bacterial one, which means antibiotics won’t work on it. Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes, and may be acute or chronic. Bronchial tubes are also known as “airways,” and they help get the air from your nose and mouth, into your lungs. They are located within your lungs. 

How Long Does Bronchitis Last?

A case of acute bronchitis may last between 7 to 14 days. You’ll likely feel worse somewhere in the middle of your illness. During that time, you’ll want to sleep or rest for most of the day.

However, chronic bronchitis can last quite a long time. Some who develop chronic bronchitis may experience symptoms over the course of several weeks, or months. For most people, acute bronchitis will go away by itself. If it develops into chronic bronchitis, it may need medical intervention.


Bronchitis is often difficult to differentiate from a common cold, as the symptoms are almost always nearly identical with a couple of exceptions.

If you’re suffering from bronchitis you may experience some, or all, of these symptoms:

  • Runny nose
  • Stuffed or blocked nose
  • Wheezing
  • Cough, which may produce mucus
  • Low-grade fever that rarely goes above 100
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing
  • Chest tightness
  • Fatigue

Bronchitis is unpleasant, so you’ll want to take a few days off from school or work so that your body can recover.

Treatment for Acute Bronchitis

Rest, rest, and more rest.

Acute bronchitis should go away on its own without medication. However, you’ll likely spend some time in bed or on the couch using regular cold remedies. These can include over-the-counter pills to help with your sinuses, sprays, cough medicine, and cough lozenges.

You should also drink plenty of fluids.

Acute bronchitis is usually caused by a viral infection and can be related to the same viruses that cause a cold and the flu. There are some occasions when bronchitis is bacterial. For this, a doctor will prescribe antibiotics such as Amoxycillin.

Your doctor may also prescribe steroids to help widen the tubes within the lungs, and to reduce inflammation. You may also receive medications that break up the mucus in the lungs or bronchodilator medications, which are similar to inhalers.

If your oxygen levels have dropped, your doctor may hook you up to oxygen to help you breathe easier.

A doctor may also recommend that you use a humidifier in your home to help with your congestion and the inflammation in the lungs.

Chronic Bronchitis

Treatment for chronic bronchitis is similar to the treatment of those with acute bronchitis; it just must be undertaken more often.

Like acute bronchitis, treatment for chronic bronchitis may include OTC medications, cough syrup or other cough medication, steroids, oxygen, medication to break up mucus, and bronchodilator medication.

Those with chronic bronchitis will also be advised of lifestyle changes that can help with their condition. One of the most urgent lifestyle changes for those that smoke will be to quit. This may contribute greatly to the reduction of symptoms.

Some hospitals have clinics for those who have pulmonary issues. This may include “coaching” or courses to help you live your life to the maximum with chronic bronchitis.

The courses may include exercising with chronic bronchitis, nutrition guidance, and chronic bronchitis life management.

In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to cut out damaged lung tissue.

Bronchitis vs Pneumonia 

The symptoms of pneumonia and bronchitis are often similar, so it can be easy to confuse the two. However, one of the telltale differences is a rise in temperature.

If you have bronchitis, your temperature will likely never go above 100 degrees. If your temperature rises past 100 degrees, see a doctor right away.

Pneumonia is more serious than bronchitis, and at times can be life-threatening. It’s treated at home with rest, fluid, and antibiotics. If it progresses, you may also need hospitalization.

Pneumonia is an infection of both of your lungs, and you can get it from others who are infected. One of the reasons it’s so dangerous is that it can inhibit how air gets into red blood cells. If your red blood cells do not receive enough oxygen, it can eventually lead to death. 

Final Thoughts in Our Guide to Bronchitis

While bronchitis is usually treated at home, you should see a doctor if your symptoms are not improving after a few days. Additionally, if you begin to run a fever above 100 degrees, you should see a doctor as soon as you can get an appointment. If things become drastically worse, consider visiting an urgent care center.

If you’re a high-risk patient, and spike a fever, you should see a doctor as an urgent care patient or head to the emergency room.

We hope that you have found our guide to bronchitis helpful and informative.

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