What is bronchitis?
Bronchitis can be either acute or chronic and is caused by an inflammation that affects the lining of the bronchial tubes that are responsible for carrying air to and from the lungs. Acute bronchitis is a very common illness that often develops as a result of a cold or other infection of the respiratory system. It is also known as a chest cold, with one of the main symptoms being thickened mucus that gets coughed up. The cough may linger for several weeks following the illness, with bronchitis typically clearing up in a week to 10 days without any permanent effects. Chronic bronchitis is a more serious ailment that is often the result of smoking and causes constant inflammation and irritation to the bronchial tubes’ lining. Repeated instances of acute bronchitis could actually be a sign of chronic bronchitis and should be checked out by a doctor. Chronic bronchitis does require medical care and can be linked to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
How serious is bronchitis?
There are two different types of bronchitis – acute bronchitis and chronic bronchitis. Acute bronchitis isn’t typically serious, with symptoms including coughing, mucus that can be coughed up, shortness of breath, fatigue, low grade fever and chills and chest discomfort. It can feel very similar to a cold, with symptoms clearing up in a week or so, although the cough may linger for several weeks after. Chronic bronchitis is a serious condition that does require medical treatment. Symptoms include a chronic, productive cough that lasts for a minimum of three months, typically with periods of time where the cough or other symptoms get worse. In addition to chronic bronchitis, patients may develop an acute infection during these times when symptoms worsen.
How long does it take to recover from bronchitis?
Acute bronchitis has a fairly quick recovery time, with most people feeling better in a week to 10 days. If the bronchitis was the result of a cold or respiratory infection, the total time for recovery can be slightly longer due to the back-to-back illnesses. In some cases, although the person is feeling better and back to normal, they may continue to have a cough for several weeks despite all other symptoms having cleared up. Bronchitis is caused by a virus, similar to a cold or the flu, that can’t be killed by antibiotics. Typically, treatment involves rest, drinking lots of fluid and cough syrup if needed to help sleep at night. Chronic bronchitis is a chronic illness that affected people will have for the rest of their lives. Symptoms can be managed through medical treatment, but they will never fully recover from the illness.
Can bronchitis turn into pneumonia?
If left untreated, bronchitis can sometimes develop into pneumonia in the case of viral or bacterial bronchitis. Bronchitis affects the lining of the bronchial tubes, which are the airways that lead to the lungs and pneumonia is an infection that forms inside one or both lungs. When bacterial bronchitis is left untreated, it can spread down into the lungs to develop pneumonia. This form of bronchitis is more likely to lead to pneumonia due to the multiplication and spread of bacteria. Viral bronchitis can’t be treated with antibiotics but will clear up on its own typically withing a week to 10 days and is less likely to lead to pneumonia.
Do I need to see a doctor for bronchitis?
Most cases of bronchitis do not require treatment from a doctor as it will clear up on its own within about 10 days. In some instances, though, medical treatment is required. You should get checked by your doctor if your cough has lasted for longer than three weeks, is preventing you from sleeping, brings up a discolored mucus, brings up blood, is causing wheezing or shortness of breath or if you have a fever higher than 100.4 F or 38 C. While acute viral bronchitis can’t be treated with antibiotics, bacterial bronchitis can be. Your doctor will also want to ensure that your symptoms aren’t signs of a more serious condition. If you have bronchitis, or have any questions, then we strongly encourage you to contact our team of leading medical professionals today at Lifetime Urgent Care Clinic. We accept walk-ins and we are open 7 days a week. We serve patients from Flint MI, Rankin MI, Grand Blanc MI, Genesee County MI, Burton MI, Swartz Creek MI, Gaines MI, Fenton MI, Holly MI, Linden MI, and Atlas MI. Looking forward to serve you!