Bronchitis occurs when the lining of the bronchial tubes become inflamed. It can occur one time (acute) or can be chronic. While this condition is very common, it can turn into something very serious if not treated promptly and effectively.
Symptoms of Bronchitis
In most cases, acute bronchitis will clear up within a few days. You will, however, probably continue coughing for a few weeks afterward. If you tend to have to deal with bronchitis on a regular basis (recurring bouts that happen for two straight years), then you may have chronic bronchitis and will need to see a doctor.
The symptoms are similar for both acute and chronic bronchitis. They typically include the production of sputum, or mucus, shortness of breath, chest discomfort, fatigue and chills accompanied by a slight fever.
There are several warning signs that will indicate you should seek medical help. For instance, if you cough so much you cannot sleep, or your cough lasts for three weeks, see a doctor. Likewise, you should get help if you have a high fever (higher than 100.4 F), you cough up blood, or you have wheezing.
It can be difficult to tell whether you have bronchitis or a regular cold for the first few days. When you visit your nearest Questcare Medical Clinic, there are a few different tests that can help diagnose the problem. These include a chest X-ray, sputum tests or a pulmonary function test. This involves the use of a spirometer, which measures how much air you can take into your lungs and expel from them.
If you have acute bronchitis, the problem will typically clear up on its own within a couple of weeks. However, your doctor may recommend the use of antibiotics if he or she has any reason to believe you may have a bacterial infection. While it is important to cough up as much mucus as you can to remove irritants from your lungs, your doctor may recommend a cough suppressant to help you sleep at night.
In cases of severe bronchitis, pulmonary rehabilitation is often suggested. This is a type of breathing exercise program performed under the supervision of a respiratory therapist in order to help you breathe more easily.