Although most cases of bronchitis clear up on their own, some people may have
complications that their doctor can ease.
Severe coughing that interferes with rest or sleep can be reduced with
Wheezing may respond to an inhaler with albuterol (Proventil, Ventolin), which
dilates the airways.
If fever continues beyond four to five days, see the doctor for a physical
examination to rule out pneumonia
See a doctor if the patient is coughing up blood, rust–colored sputum, or an
increased amount of green phlegm.
If the patient experiences difficulty breathing with or without wheezing and
they cannot reach their doctor, go to a hospital's emergency department for
evaluation and treatment. By far, the majority of cases of bronchitis stem from
viral infections. This means that most cases of bronchitis are short–term and
require nothing more than treatment of symptoms to relieve discomfort.
Antibiotics will not cure a viral illness.
Experts in in the field of infectious disease have been warning for years
that overuse of antibiotics is allowing many bacteria to become resistant to the
Doctors often prescribe antibiotics because they feel pressured by people's
expectations to receive them. This expectation has been fueled by both
misinformation in the media and marketing by drug companies. Don't expect to
receive a prescription for an antibiotic if your infection is caused by a virus.
Acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen will help with fever and muscle aches.
Drinking fluids is very important because fever causes the body to lose
fluid faster. Lung secretions will be thinner and easier to clear when the
patient is well hydrated.
A cool mist vaporizer or humidifier can help decrease bronchial irritation.
An over-the-counter cough suppressant may be helpful. Preparations with
guaifenesin will loosen secretions; dextromethorphan-the "DM" in most over the
medications suppresses cough.
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