How to Treat Acute Bronchitis

Bronchitis occurs when there is an inflammation of the airways entering your lungs.

Your airways (trachea and bronchi) swell and fill with mucus when they become inflamed, which is why you cough. The cough will persist for a few days and can last for a few weeks. It's the main sign of bronchitis.

Viruses, Smoke and other irritants can lead to the development of acute bronchitis.

What is Acute Bronchitis?

Inflammation of the bronchial tubes is brought on by the infectious viral infection known as acute bronchitis. The air enters your lungs through these passages. These tubes enlarge when they become infected. Within them, mucus (a viscous fluid) develops. It leads to difficulty in breathing.

What are the Symptoms Associated with Acute Bronchitis?

The symptoms that a patient with acute bronchitis can have include

  • Congestion in the chest

  • Tightness feeling in the chest

  • Feeling short of breath

  • Wheezing

  • Soreness of the throat

  • Yellow, clear, or green mucus in the cough

  • Chills

  • Fever

  • Aches in the body

Your cough could persist for a few weeks or longer. This occurs because it takes time for the bronchial passages to repair. A persistent cough may be an indication of another issue, such as pneumonia or asthma.

Who Does Acute Bronchitis Affect?

Acute bronchitis can happen to anyone. But some people are more prone to developing this ailment. They are as follows −

  • People who smoke or spend time with smokers.

  • Have COPD, asthma, or another breathing disorder.

  • Have GERD (chronic acid reflux).

  • Possess an autoimmune disorder or another inflammatory disease.

  • The person is around air pollutants (like smoke or chemicals).

How Long does Acute Bronchitis make you Contagious?

While bronchitis is not infectious in and of itself, some of its causes are. If a virus caused your bronchitis, you can be contagious for a few days to a week.

Some bronchitis causes are however not contagious.

What are the Tests done for Detecting Acute Bronchitis?

Acute bronchitis cannot be found by one particular test. The doctors might test for other possible ailments. Testing options include −

  • Nasal Swab − Your doctor might swab your nose with a soft-tipped stick to check for viruses like COVID-19 or the flu.

  • A chest X-ray − A chest X-ray is done if your cough persists for a long time to rule out more grave problems. The doctors will look for symptoms of other diseases that might start these symptoms.

  • A blood test − To check for infections or to assess your general health, your healthcare practitioner could perform blood tests with a needle in your arm.

  • Cough test − Your healthcare professional might ask you to cough and spit into a tube. Your sample will be examined for evidence of bacteria or viruses.

  • Testing for pulmonary function − Your healthcare practitioner might use a gadget to examine how well your lungs function if they suspect you have chronic bronchitis.

How can one Treat Patients with Acute Bronchitis?

Medication is typically not used to treat acute bronchitis. Your doctor may prescribe antivirals if you have the flu and your symptoms started within the last two days to hasten the recovery process.

Antibiotics won't help you get well because bronchitis is nearly never brought on by bacteria and may potentially make you feel worse.

What Treatments are Used for Curing Acute Bronchitis?

Most likely, your doctor won't recommend any drugs to treat your bronchitis. In some circumstances, you may be able to treat the underlying cause or alleviate symptoms by using drugs, such as −

  • Antiviral drugs − Your doctor may suggest an antiviral drug if the flu is the root cause of your bronchitis. Antiviral medications can help you feel better faster if you start taking them as soon as your symptoms appear.

  • Bronchodilators − If you're having problems breathing, your doctor might recommend a bronchodilator (a medication that helps open your airways).

  • Anti-inflammatory medicines − To treat inflammation, your doctor may advise corticosteroids and other drugs.

  • Antitussive medications − Antitussives, or cough suppressants, are available over-the-counter and by prescription. This includes benzonatate and dextromethorphan.

  • Antibiotics − It's quite unlikely that you'll receive antibiotic treatment for bronchitis unless your doctor suspects a bacterial infection.

  • Asthma and COPD treatment − Your doctor may prescribe extra drugs or breathing treatments for chronic bronchitis if you have COPD or asthma.

How can you get Relief From Acute Bronchitis?

Start with these key steps −

  • Increase your fluid intake, focusing on water. To help thin out the mucus and make it simpler to cough up, try eight to twelve glasses per day. Your doctor might be limiting your fluid intake if you have kidney or heart failure. Before consuming additional water, speak with them beforehand.

  • Get lots of sleep.

  • To help alleviate discomfort, combine ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin with over-the-counter painkillers. If you have kidney illness or peptic ulcers, read the warning labels and see your doctor before taking them. Acetaminophen is used for curing pain and fever.

Unless your cough keeps you up at night, it's better to avoid using cough medicine. Your cough aids in getting rid of the debris in your lungs. Avoid providing cough medicine to children under the age of four, and consult your doctor before giving it to older children.

In place of cough syrup, you can &miinus;

  • Use throat lozenges without any medication. Avoid using these around young children as they may cause choking hazards.

  • Try a tablespoon of honey or a blend of honey and lemon. Don't give honey to infants younger than one-year-old.

  • If you are having difficulties clearing the mucus, try an over-the-counter medication that is available as a pill or a liquid.

Do Bronchitis Patients Recover on Their own?

Yes, acute bronchitis typically resolves without treatment. A virus is almost always to blame, and most viruses are resistant to treatment. While you wait for the inflammation to subside, you can take care of the symptoms at home.

Treatment may be necessary to help the ailment brought on by something else go away.

How Long does one Take to Recover From it?

The average recovery time from this ailment is two weeks, although it can sometimes take three to six weeks. While you recover, you can treat your symptoms at home with over-the-counter medications. If after three weeks you still feel unwell contact your doctor.


Having bronchitis can be frustrating. The cough seems to persist forever, even after the physical aches and runny nose have subsided. Until you feel better, medications and even natural cures like honey can assist. Speak with your healthcare practitioner if you need help managing your symptoms.

Updated on: 07-Apr-2023


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