Acute bronchitis affects the main air passages to the lungs. When these tubes become infected, they swell and mucus forms inside them. This makes it hard to breathe, causing coughing and wheezing. Acute bronchitis can be caused by an infection that starts with a cold or the flu or by smoking, allergies, and exposure to certain chemical fumes. There’s no way to prevent all cases of the condition, but not smoking and getting a flu shot can reduce the risk.
The main symptom of acute bronchitis is a cough. Other symptoms include: Sore throat Nasal congestion or discomfort Chest soreness Fatigue Low-grade fever
Most cases of acute bronchitis don’t require medical treatment. Bronchitis is most often caused by a viral infection. Antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections, not viruses. Self-care includes rest, drinking plenty of fluids, and not smoking. If you have a fever, take aspirin or acetaminophen.
WHEN TO CALL THE DOCTOR
Bronchitis caused by a bacterial infection may need an antibiotic. You should seek medical treatment if you: Are coughing up blood Have a high fever or chills Have thick, greenish mucus, especially if it has a bad smell Feel short of breath or have chest pain Have heart or lung disease Have a bothersome cough for three or more weeks. Taking care of yourself and following your doctor’s treatment plan can help you recover from bronchitis.
WASH AWAY A COLD
Washing your hands is the best way to prevent the common cold. Hands can pick up cold-causing germs from things such as doorknobs, desks, toys, and telephones. To keep away a cold— or other illnesses caused by germs—be sure to wash your hands: Before cooking and eating After using the bathroom or changing a diaper After playing with pets or cleaning up their waste After blowing your nose, sneezing, or coughing After handling garbage or money Before and after touching someone who is sick.
Make sure your family follows this handy advice on how to suds up: Start with warm water and liquid or bar soap. Lather up by rubbing your hands together for about 20 seconds. Remember to wash around cuticles, under nails, and in the creases of your hands. Rinse well and dry. If possible, turn off the faucet and open the bathroom door using a paper towel.
PROTECT YOURSELF WITH PREVENTION
It’s not too late to get a flu shot. Contact your doctor to schedule one today!
Healthy Living (2011) Retrieved December 26, 2011, from http://www.healthfirsthealthplans.org/health_plans/members/mc_newsletter.pdf