The Facts on Bronchitis
Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes – the lower respiratory tract leading to both lungs. There are two types of bronchitis – acute and chronic. Acute bronchitis is a temporary condition which starts rapidly, sometimes it comes in the aftermath of a cold or flu. In acute bronchitis, coughing usually lasts between 10 to 20 days. Chronic bronchitis is defined as a mucus-producing cough that lasts for at least three months in two consecutive years. Bronchitis can be dangerous for infants. In fact, bronchial cough is one of the most common diagnosis codes for pediatric outpatient visits.
Symptoms and Treatment
Symptoms can include coughing and sneezing, fever, struggling to breathe and refusing to eat or drink. Body temperature may be slightly elevated to about 101°F (38.5°C) lasting about four days. Fever may suggest a bacterial infection such as pneumonia. It's important to see a doctor in this situation.
Bronchitis usually clears up without specific treatment. Antibiotics are not usually effective because most cases of acute bronchitis are caused by viruses. Generally, antibiotics are needed to relieve the symptoms. In children with acute bronchitis, the main target of treatment is the control of fever and muscle pain, which can be achieved with over-the-counter medications containing paracetamol. If a child refuses to eat or drink, it can cause rapid dehydration. Make sure the little patient drinks a lot of liquids. It is optional to use an expectorant to help loosen mucus so it can be more easily coughed up. Drinking herbal tea may help breathing better. Bed rest and staying calm is a must. Use a hot or cold humidifier to help with bringing the mucus up so it can be coughed out. Use a saline nasal mist. Avoid air pollution as well as any irritants that may cause further breathing problems. Chicken soup will help with some immune system functions, and it temporarily speeds up the movement of mucus through the nose.
Above all you should avoid the spread of germs. Try to avoid people who have a cold or the flu. If you are sick, stay away from others as much as possible. Teach children to wash their hands often with soap and water. Use germ-killing gel to clean hands when there is no water available. Make sure the child’s diet is healthy and full of vitamins. When a child is diagnosed with acute bronchitis, they need to be isolated from others.