When you have Bronchitis with mild symptoms, cough medicine , liquids and some medicine to relieve symptoms are usually enough. For more severe cases antibiotics and corticosteroids might be prescribed by your doctor.
But before we get into more detail about what can you take for bronchitis, lets quickly first talk about what is bronchitis.
Bronchitis is the inflammation of airways that carry air to the lungs, which produces edema and mucus. Then edema and mucus promote coughing, and breathing becomes difficult.
There are two types of bronchitis:
- Acute Bronchitis: which installs quickly, heals in 2-3 weeks and occurs in people without other illnesses
- Chronic Bronchitis: which has frequent recurrences and with long term manifestations.
Now, how is it diagnosed, what is the pathophysiology of bronchitis and what to take for bronchitis? Lets dive right in.
The Pathophysiology of Bronchitis
So, the Bronchitis inflammation is the result of an infection from the upper respiratory tract. Think of the cold or the flu.
The infection extends from the nose, mouth and throat to the bronchi, where it will cause edema and increased mucus secretion.
In the first few days, the cough is dry, and then, as the mucus secretion increases, the cough becomes productive. At this point, bronchial edema and increased amounts of mucus make breathing difficult.
Healing depends on several factors including age, general health and the microbe that has produced the infection (acute viral bronchitis is often less severe than that produced by bacteria).
When to Address the Doctor
These are just a few guiding lines. If you feel not so sure, then you should see a Doctor!
But you should immediately call or visit your doctor when:
- Chest pain or breathing difficulties occur;
- When large amounts of blood are eliminated by coughing (haemoptysis)
- When wheezing or difficulty in breathing occurs, even when resting
- When the sputum is yellow or green
- When the productive cough lasts for more than two days and is associated with fever of 38 degrees Celsius or above
- When symptoms of acute bronchitis appear in a person with chronic pulmonary disease
- When the cough accompanies vomiting or lasts for more than 4 weeks
The recommended doctors you should see are: the family doctor, a general practitioner, medical pediatrician, doctor of internal medicine.
A doctor (if the docter is specialized, then a Pneumologist) will examine you to determine the cause of the cough.
He will listen to your heart and lungs to determine if you have wheezing or if the heart beats too fast, both which may indicate that your body is not getting enough oxygen. Bronchitis can also cause an increase in blood pressure.
Establishing a medical diagnosis of Chronic Bronchitis is a process of elimination. Other possible lung diseases should be excluded to reach the diagnosis of bronchitis.
In most cases of Chronic Bronchitis, symptoms of emphysema are also discovered during the medical diagnosis. When both diseases co-exist, the condition is referred to as COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease).
Chronic persistent bronchitis is a serious problem. This disease can permanently affect the bronchia pathways and lead to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, a serious medical condition in which the lungs are irreparably damaged, resulting in decreased respiratory capacity.
No routine laboratory investigations are performed to diagnose acute bronchitis. Diagnosis is based on :
- Symtomatology and
- Physical examination.
If bronchitis is produced by viruses, tests are not indicated. If a bacterial infection is suspected, it is necessary to perform cultures and antibiotics. Addition tests are required in children or in people over the age of 65 years.
What can you take for bronchitis?
Ambulatory treatment (at home) includes:
- Improving cough by administering fluids, cough drops and avoiding exposure to irritants. Antitussives can also be administered which can lead to the stopping of cough. Expectorants can also be used. The expectorant fluidizes secretions and makes them easier to remove
- Avoiding coffee and alcohol because they favor dehydration
- Avoiding smoking or cigarette smoke exposure
- Rest to allow the body to eliminate the infection
- Administration of acetaminophen (paracetamol), ibuprofen or aspirin to relieve symptoms (do not take aspirin under the age of 20)
- Humidifying the atmosphere in the room (heat and humidity fluidize the mucus and make it easier to remove)
- Inhalation therapy with beta 2-agonists, which will dilate the airways and diminish wheezing and coughing; these compounds can have adverse effects like tremor and agitation
- Antibiotherapy in people with increased risk of developing complications; Antibiotics can also be administered to people to whom beta 2-agonists have not been effective.
- Corticotherapy can be indicated to reduce the difficulty of breathing, frequent wheezing or coughing in patients with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Some notes that are important :
Patients who develop complications require different treatment.
Also, in most home-based patients, antibiotic administration is unnecessary because most cases of acute bronchitis are caused by viruses, and antibiotics have no effect on viruses. The use of non-target antibiotics can cause adverse effects or the emergence of certain bacterial resistance to that antibiotic. Resistance once formed, will cause other antibiotics to be less effective. When prescribing antibiotics, all pills should be taken, even if the symptoms improve. If the whole recipe is not administered, it is possible that overcast microbes remain in the system.