Bronchitis is inflammation of the small airways that lead into the lungs, called the bronchioles. The bronchioles swell up and form mucus, or phlegm. The inflamed bronchioles and mucus create a cough reflex. Bronchitis normally presents as a cough that lingers on for several weeks and is quite a common complaint. Bronchitis typically manifests as :
– Cough that lasts 10 to 20 days – Production of mucus that’s clear, green, or yellow – Some may experience tightness in the chest from coughing for so long – Wheezing or difficulty breathing
The most common cause for bronchitis is a virus, as a common cold or the flu. For this reason over the counter medications are very commonly initially recommended. This may include cough syrups and antihistamines. Some cough syrups and capsules that are slightly stronger may be prescribed by a healthcare professional.
Less commonly, a bacteria called Bordetella Pertussis, which causes pertussis (whooping cough) may be the cause. The cough typically may have a spasm of coughs followed by vomiting. Pertussis is very uncommon because most of us have been vaccinated against it. However, despite vaccination, Pertussis can still occur. For Pertussis associated bronchitis, antibiotics will be prescribed.
In addition, to reduce inflammation in the bronchioles, a bronchodilator, or an inhaler commonly used for asthma, may be prescribed to open up the airways.
Talk to a healthcare provider to determine if you have bronchitis and what is the best treatment plan for you.