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Acute bronchitis is an inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, the hollow air passages that connect the lungs to the windpipe (trachea).
Acute bronchitis caused by an infection usually starts with an upper respiratory illness, such as the common cold or flu (influenza), that spreads from your nose and throat down into the airways. Most cases of acute bronchitis are caused by viruses, although the condition also can be caused by bacteria.
To diagnose acute bronchitis, your health care provider will ask about your medical history, especially whether you recently have had an upper respiratory infection. Most cases of acute bronchitis go away without treatment within five days, although coughing usually lasts seven to 10 days.
If you have a fever, most physicians will recommend taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin and others) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) to reduce fever.
People who smoke should avoid smoking during the illness to reduce irritation to the airways. If bronchitis is caused by a bacterial infection and doesn't get better on its own, an antibiotic may be prescribed. In some cases, doctors may prescribe a bronchodilator, an inhaled medication that helps the airways to open. Make an appointment with your health care provider if a mild cough gets worse after a week or if you have a cough that produces thick, bloody, foul-smelling or green-colored phlegm. You have a high fever that does not come down after taking a fever-relieving medication, such as acetaminophen or aspirin.
People at high risk of complications from acute bronchitis — such as infants, the elderly or people with chronic lung or heart disease — should call a physician at the first signs of bronchitis. In an average, healthy person, acute bronchitis typically clears up quickly on its own or with antibiotic treatment. Disclaimer: This content should not be considered complete and should not be used in place of a call or visit to a health professional.
The easiest way to lookup drug information, identify pills, check interactions and set up your own personal medication records. What is bronchitis?Bronchitis is an infection in the lungs that causes the lungs to become inflamed. To provide even greater transparency and choice, we are working on a number of other cookie-related enhancements. Acute bronchitis: inflammation of the breathing tubes within the lungs (bronchial tubes or bronchi) as a result of an infection (viral or bacterial) or a chemical irritant (such as smoke or gastric acid reflux). The inflammation can be caused by an infection or by other factors that irritate the airways, such as cigarette smoking, allergies and exposure to fumes from some chemicals. The cough can be dry or it can produce sputum, the mucus-like substance brought up from the lungs.
Your doctor also will listen to your chest with a stethoscope to try to detect sounds of wheezing and airways clogged with mucous. In some cases, coughing continues for weeks or even months after the infection is gone because the bronchial linings are still irritated and may become narrow, as in asthma. However, the risk of bronchitis and complications can be reduced by not smoking and by getting flu shots to reduce the risk of getting the flu, which can lead to acute bronchitis.
People diagnosed with acute bronchitis will be told to rest and drink plenty of fluids to keep the mucus thin, watery and easy to cough up. You can catch more of the steam by tenting a towel over your head while bending over the water.

However, aspirin should not be given to children under age 19 to avoid the risk of Reye's syndrome, a rare but serious, potentially fatal illness that can occur when a child with a fever takes aspirin. Antibiotics will be given only when there is a strong suspicion that the bronchitis is caused by a bacterial infection.
These are the same medications used by some people with asthma to ease breathing during an asthma attack. People who have frequent bouts of acute bronchitis should make an appointment with a physician to see if they might have undiagnosed asthma. Some people, including the elderly, infants, smokers or people with heart or lung disorders, are at higher risk of developing complications from acute bronchitis.
This material is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is intended for general information purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. The inflammation causes swelling of the lining of these breathing tubes, narrowing the tubes and promoting secretion of inflammatory fluid.
The level of oxygen in your blood may be tested using a small device that closes gently over a finger. That's because of rising concerns about antibiotic resistance, in which bacteria evolve in ways that allow them to survive antibiotics. It can be a miserable, but minor, acute illness that follows the common cold - or a more serious chronic condition called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Other symptoms can include wheezing, chest tightness or pain, shortness of breath, sore throat, nasal congestion, fever and tiredness. If your health care provider hears any suspicious lung sounds during the physical examination, or if your oxygen level is lower than normal, he or she may order a chest X-ray to check for pneumonia.
When bronchitis comes back frequently or occurs most days of a month for at least three months of a year for two years, it is called chronic bronchitis. This problem is increasing and is caused, in part, by antibiotics being used incorrectly and when they are not needed. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the BootsWebMD Site.
Common viruses that cause bronchitis include the rhinovirus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and the influenza virus. Symptoms are a cough that begins abruptly and can include a runny nose, nasal stuffiness, and sore throat.
Bronchitis: Inside your lungsWhen the bronchial tubes that carry air deep into your lungs become inflamed, the inner lining swells and becomes thicker, narrowing the breathing passages. As opposed to acute bronchitis, chronic bronchitis is a long-term condition with a daily cough with sputum production for at least three months, two years in a row. These irritated membranes also secrete extra mucus, which coats and sometimes clogs the small airways. Cigarette smoking is a major risk factor for the development of both acute and chronic bronchitis.
Coughing spells are the body's way of trying to clear out these secretions for easier breathing. Symptoms of bronchitisThe main symptom of bronchitis is a frequent cough that produces mucus.

It may start with a dry cough, then after a few days the coughing spells may bring up mucus. Most people get over acute bronchitis in two to three weeks, although the cough can persist for longer. If you're in otherwise good health, your lungs will return to normal after you've recovered from the initial infection. Repeated bouts: Chronic bronchitisDoctors suspect this illness when you have a cough with phlegm on most days for at least three months in a year, for two years in a row.
Chronic bronchitis is a serious condition that makes your lungs a breeding ground for bacterial infections and may require ongoing medical treatment. It's one form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a lung disease that makes it hard to breathe. Bronchitis or something else?The symptoms of bronchitis are often similar to those of other conditions, such as asthma, pneumonia, allergies, the common cold, flu, sinusitis and even gastrooesophageal reflux disease (GORD) and lung cancer. Irritants - like tobacco smoke, smog, chemicals in household cleaners - even fumes or dust in the environment - can also cause acute bronchitis. Smokers and bronchitisA smoker who gets acute bronchitis will have a much harder time recovering.
Even one puff on a cigarette can cause temporary damage to the tiny hair-like structures (cilia) in the airways that brush out debris, irritants and excess mucus.
Further smoking continues the damage and increases the chances of chronic bronchitis, which can lead to increased risk of lung infection and permanent lung damage. How is acute bronchitis diagnosed?Doctors usually diagnose acute bronchitis by reviewing how your symptoms have developed over time and through a physical examination. Using a stethoscope, your doctor will listen for any abnormal sounds produced within your lungs when you breathe. This can be done at your doctor's surgery or at a hospital clinic after the doctor has taken a medical history and performed a physical examination.
Your doctor may recommend an inhaled bronchodilator medicine to open your airways and help you breathe more easily. Treatment: Chronic bronchitisIf you have chronic bronchitis related to smoking, the most important thing to do is to stop smoking to prevent further damage to your lungs. Unless your doctor advises against it, get a pneumococcal vaccination and an annual flu vaccination. Chronic bronchitis and COPDChronic bronchitis and emphysema are the two main forms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Doctors may prescribe bronchodilators, which are medications that help open narrowed airways. How to avoid bronchitisIt's no surprise that the best way to decrease your risk is not to smoke and not to allow others to smoke in your home. Other ways include: avoiding colds and staying away from things that irritate your nose, throat and lungs, such as dust or pets.

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