Maiden Lane Medical
Multi-Specialty Group Practice located in New York, NY
If you have a cough, sore throat, and a fever, it could be more than the flu. It could be bronchitis. To get on the path toward a healthy respiratory tract, contact our Internist at Maiden Lane Medical, New York.
The multidisciplinary team of specialists offers patients a wide range of treatment options for bronchitis and other common health concerns. To book an appointment, call the office today or schedule online.
What is bronchitis?
Bronchitis happens when your bronchial tubes — the tubes that move air in and out of your lungs — become inflamed and produce excessive amounts of mucus. When they become inflamed, it causes problems such as trouble breathing, chronic coughing, and other uncomfortable symptoms.
You can have acute bronchitis, which lasts a relatively short amount of time, or chronic bronchitis, which can last for several months or longer.
Acute bronchitis is the short-term form of the condition and usually lasts for 10-14 days. In some cases, it can persist for three weeks. A viral infection usually causes it, and tobacco smoke can make your symptoms worse.
Clinically, chronic bronchitis occurs when you have lung inflammation and a cough for three consecutive months for at least two years. This form of the disease is more common in people who smoke. It also increases your risk of chronic breathing problems such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
What are the symptoms of bronchitis?
With both types of the disease, symptoms may vary from one individual to the next. Some of the most common symptoms of acute bronchitis include:
- Chronic cough
- Excess production of mucus
- Extreme fatigue
- Shortness of breath
People with the illness might also experience chest pain or trouble breathing. In addition, acute bronchitis can manifest with symptoms of the flu, like fever and body aches.
Chronic bronchitis causes similar symptoms, but they persist for several months instead of subsiding within a couple of weeks. Additionally, with the long-term form of the disease, you may have periods where your symptoms are worse and times when they subside.
What causes bronchitis?
Colds and other viral respiratory infections often cause acute bronchitis. Although rare, a bacterial infection can also cause the condition. When it comes to chronic bronchitis, the cause is usually cigarette smoking. Other causes of the disease include exposure to air pollution, toxic chemical fumes, or gasses.
Some of the risk factors for the disease include:
- Childhood respiratory disease
- A family history of lung disease
- Gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD)
How does bronchitis spread?
Acute bronchitis is contagious. It’s often spread from person to person when you cough or sneeze. The virus can also spread if you touch something a sick person has touched, like a door handle or subway bar, and then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. In addition, young children often pick up the illness at school, daycare, or common play areas.
If you have a weakened immune system, your body is less able to fight off the virus.
To lower your risk of developing the infection, practice the following:
- Wash your hands
- Wear a mask
- Stay away from sick people
How is bronchitis diagnosed?
The internist at Maiden Lane Medical begins by reviewing your symptoms, medical history, and lifestyle. They need to know how long you’ve had the symptoms, if you produce mucus when you cough, and if you use tobacco.
After listening to your lungs, your doctor may order a chest X-ray or lab tests to check your blood or mucus for any infections.
How is bronchitis treated?
Bronchitis treatment depends on whether you have acute viral bronchitis or the chronic form of the disease.
In most cases of acute bronchitis, your physician recommends that you get plenty of rest and fluids. They may also suggest over-the-counter cough medicine to help break up mucus and soothe your irritated throat.
Aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen can lower your fever. It would be best if you stayed home — you may be contagious for as long as a week. They may prescribe antibiotics if your infection is bacterial. However, antibiotics don’t affect viral infections.
Your physician takes a different approach if you have long-term bronchitis. They may prescribe medication, including bronchodilators, corticosteroids, or combination drugs that reduce inflammation to open your airways.
They may also suggest pulmonary rehabilitation, including exercises, lifestyle changes, and dietary modifications to help you breathe more easily.
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What is the connection between bronchitis and COPD?
COPD is a collective term for various illnesses and diseases that interfere with your ability to breathe. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are the two most common types of COPD.
The chronic inflammation caused by long-term bronchitis can cause the tissue in your lungs to harden and thicken. This effectively destroys the tissue that allows oxygen to transfer into your bloodstream.
However, it is possible to have chronic bronchitis without the permanent airway obstruction of COPD.
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