Acute bronchitis involves infection of the bronchi. This condition is considered prevalent and typically due to a viral infection. An infection due to bacteria is uncommon.
What are the indications?
The main symptom of acute bronchitis is cough. There is also fever, cold, headache along with aches and pains.
These symptoms usually peak after 2-3 days and eventually settle. Nevertheless, it can take 2-3 weeks for the cough to subside entirely after the other symptoms have settled. This is due to the inflammation in the airways brought about by the infection which takes some time to subside.
Management of acute bronchitis
The objective of treatment is to alleviate the symptoms as the immune system clears up the infection. The widely-used treatment options include the following:
- Increased intake of fluid if fever is present to prevent dehydration.
- Pain medications such as ibuprofen, paracetamol or aspirin to reduce the pain, headache and fever.
- Cessation of smoking
What are the symptoms to watch out for?
It is important to note that acute bronchitis typically clears up without any complications. Occasionally, the infection can travel to the lung tissues to trigger the development of pneumonia. A doctor should be consulted if the following develop:
- Worsening fever, wheezing or headache
- Rapid breathing, chest pain or shortness of breath
- Coughing up blood or phlegm appears dark or rust-colored
- Individual becomes confused or drowsy
- Cough lasts longer than 3-4 weeks
- Repeated episodes of acute bronchitis
- Other symptoms develop that the individual is worried about