Bothered with Bronchitis?

Posted on April 26, 2011


Winter is over, but that doesn’t mean coughs and colds aren’t still around.

Acute Bronchitis is a great example. It occurs when the bronchial tree gets infected. This causes the tubes that carry air into your lungs to swell, making it hard to breathe. At the same time, thick mucus forms in the lungs. Acute bronchitis only lasts a short time, a few weeks or less.

Bronchitis symptoms include:

  • Sore throat

  • Fever

  • A cough that may bring up clear, yellow or green mucus

  • Chest congestion

  • Shortness of breath

  • Wheezing

  • Chills

  • Body aches

Bronchitis is often caused by the same virus that causes the flu and cold. When a virus attacks your bronchial tree, the body fights back. This causes the swelling and building up of mucus. The virus spreads through the air when someone coughs or through physical contact such as unwashed hands. If you breathe in or come into physical contact with the virus, you may get bronchitis. Smoking also increases your chances of getting bronchitis.

Usually, acute bronchitis will go away on its own. During this time it is important to get lots of rest, fluids, and increase humidity in the air. Over-the-counter pain relievers can reduce inflammation, ease pain and lower fever. Because acute bronchitis is usually caused by viruses, antibiotics do not help. Even if you cough up mucus that is colored or thick, antibiotics probably won’t help you get better any faster. However, if your doctor thinks your bronchitis is caused by a bacteria, he or she may prescribe antibiotics.

If you think you may have bronchitis and need a health care provider call the Mayor’s Health Line at 617-534-5050. For more information on bronchitis take a look at the National Library of Medicine.