Acute Bronchitis

Understanding Acute Bronchitis

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

You've likely experienced it before – coughing, a mild fever, hoarseness, wheezing while breathing.  These are all symptomatic of bronchitis, a condition that involves the inflammation of the bronchial tubes, or the tubes that carry air to the lungs.  There are two main types of this condition – acute bronchitis and chronic bronchitis.  While chronic bronchitis can be a long-term issue, acute bronchitis typically lasts for only 2-3 weeks.  Keep reading to learn more about what you can expect from this condition.

What are the causes and symptoms?

Acute bronchitis is most commonly caused by the same viruses that cause colds and the flu. These viruses are easily spread through the air and physical contact, and many get bronchitis following an upper respiratory tract infection. Acute bronchitis can also be brought on by exposure to tobacco smoke, dust, air pollution and more, as these can irritate the bronchial tubes. In more rare cases, acute bronchitis can be caused by bacteria.

The initial symptom of acute bronchitis is typically a dry, hacking cough. After a few days, this cough may start to bring up mucus, which can be clear, yellow, or green. Patients with acute bronchitis may also experience a mild fever, a feeling of tiredness, wheezing or whistling noises when breathing (that are exacerbated by physical activity, and chest tightness & pain. In severe cases, some patients experience a shortness of breath.

How can it be diagnosed and treated?

To diagnose acute bronchitis, your doctor will first ask about your symptoms and medical history. He or she may also inquire as to whether you have been exposed to common lung irritants like dust, fumes, or air pollution. To make an accurate diagnosis, your healthcare provider will likely listen to your lungs, and potentially administer other tests like a chest x-ray, lung function tests, examination of mucus, and more.

For many patients, acute bronchitis will simply go away on its own with rest, fluids, and avoiding smoke or fumes. In some cases, cough syrup or an inhaled bronchodilator may be helpful in treating this condition. A humidifer may also prove effective, as it can help loosen mucus and ease breathing. It's important to speak to your doctor if you think you may have acute bronchitis, as they can advise you towards an individualized treatment plan.

Board Certified Physician in Astoria

If you think you may be living with acute bronchitis or just want to learn more about this condition, contact us today and schedule an appointment. Our offices are located in Astoria, and you can reach us at (718) 204-7550. We hope to hear from you soon.

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