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Battling Bronchitis: What You Need to Know

We’re diving into a topic that’s all too familiar during the colder months: bronchitis. Whether you’ve experienced it firsthand or know someone who has, bronchitis can really put a damper on your day (and night). But fear not, because we’re here to shed some light on this pesky respiratory issue and what you can do about it.

So, what exactly is bronchitis? 

Well, simply put, it’s an inflammation of the bronchial tubes, the airways that carry air to your lungs. It can be caused by viruses or bacteria and is often triggered by a cold or flu. The most common symptoms associated with bronchitis include:

  • Runny, stuffy nose
  • Low-grade fever
  • Chest congestion
  • Wheezing or a whistling sound while breathing
  • A cough that may produce yellow or green mucus (sputum)
  • Feeling run-down or tired

Now, bronchitis can come in two forms: acute and chronic. Acute bronchitis typically hits after a cold or flu and tends to clear up within a few weeks. Chronic bronchitis, on the other hand, is a more long-term condition often associated with smoking or prolonged exposure to irritants such as secondhand smoke, air pollution, chemical fumes, etc.

How is it spread? Is it contagious? 

If you’ve got acute bronchitis from a virus, you can be contagious for a few days to about a week. You’re especially contagious during those initial days of feeling under the weather, so it’s best to hunker down at home right when you start feeling unwell. Since this virus is transmitted through tiny airborne droplets carrying germs, it can spread when someone talks, sneezes, or coughs. So, if you’ve been sharing airspace with someone who’s under the weather, you might find yourself dealing with bronchitis soon after.

Bronchitis can also tag along with bacterial infections, making it a double trouble situation. And if left untreated, it can lead to some more severe complications like pneumonia or even exacerbations of underlying conditions like asthma or COPD. Yikes!

Now, onto the good stuff: diagnosis and treatment.

When it comes to diagnosis, our healthcare providers at Citra Urgent Care will likely start by asking you about your symptoms and giving you a thorough physical examination. While additional tests aren’t always necessary, if you’re running a fever, they might order a chest X-ray just to rule out any other issues like pneumonia. 

In our experience, the majority of bronchitis cases resolve naturally over several weeks as the infection runs its course. However, our care team may recommend the following treatment options to make you more comfortable:

  • Take it easy for a couple of days – your body needs some R&R to bounce back.
  • Keep chugging that water; it’s like magic for clearing out mucous.
  • Cough suppressant to quiet down that relentless cough.
  • Consider breathing treatments
  • Try out a humidifier or take a steamy hot shower to help you breathe easier.

Just a heads-up: antibiotics won’t do much for a viral bug, but if we suspect bacteria’s the culprit, we might prescribe them.

At Citra Urgent Care, we understand how miserable bronchitis can make you feel, which is why we’re here to provide compassionate care and effective treatment options. Whether you’re dealing with a nagging cough or chest discomfort, our team of healthcare professionals is here to help!

Find a Citra Urgent Care clinic near you!