People regularly suffer from bronchitis, which occurs when the airways in our lungs have been stimulated to produce more mucus to respond to irritation. Acute bronchitis, most commonly occurs after a viral infection, but can occur after a bacterial infection, producing symptoms of increased cough and sputum, sometimes with an associated fever and wheezing. These symptoms usually improve after 7 -10 days and frequently do not require any medication except for symptomatic relief such as cough syrup. Chronic bronchitis occurs when the lungs are repeatedly irritated either by recurrent infection or as is common in the United States, the effects of smoking and airway irritation. The persistent symptoms of cough and sputum production may become a chronic illness and is frequently seen in cigarette smokers.
Symptoms of bronchitis include:
- Increased mucus production
- Shortness of breath
- Fever and chills
- Sometimes wheezing
When should I see a pulmonary specialist about bronchitis?
Bronchitis is a common disease process. Taken care of by primary care physicians, however, if you develop persistent symptoms, despite preliminary treatment, discuss with your physician a consideration for referral to a pulmonary specialist. Call us for an appointment.
Who is at risk of bronchitis?
Anyone can experience acute bronchitis, but several factors increase your risk for chronic bronchitis, (more than 3 months), including:
- Smoking – the most common cause of chronic bronchitis
- Having a medical condition that compromises your immune system
- Exposure to irritants like toxins or chemicals
- Acid reflux
How is bronchitis diagnosed?
Most commonly the detailed history that you provide at the time of evaluation is enough to strongly suggest the diagnosis. You physical exam, breathing tests and X-ray may further support the diagnosis of bronchitis. These studies can also rule-out the possibility of other lung diseases such as pneumonia, that may cause symptoms similar to bronchitis.
How is bronchitis treated?
When treating a patient with persistent bronchitis, treatment options may be as limited as clinical observation or can extend to the use of antibiotics, medications that improve breathing and changes in lifestyle
For evaluation and treatment for bronchitis, talk to your physician and make an appointment at The Sleep Lab by calling the office or clicking the online booking feature today