Bronchitis - Treatments

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What are the treatments for acute bronchitis?

Decreasing inflammation is the goal for treating acute bronchitis.

Albuterol inhalation, either with a hand held device (meter dosed inhaler, MDI) or nebulizer will help dilate the bronchial tubes.

Short-term steroid therapy will help minimize inflammation within the bronchial tubes. Prednisone is a common prescription medication that enhances the anti-inflammatory effects of the steroids produced within the body by the adrenal glands. Topical inhaled steroids may also be of benefit with fewer potential side effects.

It is important to keep the patient comfortable by treating fever with acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Drinking plenty of fluid will keep the patient well hydrated and hydration keeps secretions into the bronchial tubes more liquid and easier to expel.

Antibiotics are not necessarily indicated for the treatment of acute bronchitis. Occasionally they may be prescribed should a bacterial infection be present in addition to the usual virus that causes acute bronchitis. However, most acute bronchitis is caused by viruses and no antibiotics are needed.

Although good hydration will help remove secretions into the bronchi, other treatments (for example, Mucinex, Robitussin and others that contain guaifenesin) can help clear secretions though this is often a highly variable finding.

Cough is a very violent action that results in dynamic collapse of the airways. This collapse results in the walls of the airways banging against one another. This action of cough can cause further inflammation and help perpetuate the problem by sustaining and increasing inflammation. Cough suppression with cough drops or other liquid suppressants (for example, Vicks 44, Halls, and cough syrups that contain dextromethorphan) help to break this vicious cycle. In addition, if the person smokes, they should stop. If the acute bronchitis is being caused by inhaled smoke or chemicals, the patient should be removed from these irritant sources.

Return to Acute Bronchitis

See what others are saying

Comment from: ellie, 75 or over Female (Patient) Published: November 06

Over the years I have had about one attack of bronchitis per year that starts with a cold and then moves to a cough that does not seem to quit. This cough is so persistent that sleep seems impossible and my chest feels contracted with pain. After all these years I finally found a solution which eases coughing chewing gum! This might sound ridiculous, but it works! I usually purchase a pack containing at least six to eight packages and steadily chew through each one. There is something about chewing that keeps the throat moist and reduces the constant feeling of having to cough, enough to help you finally quiet down the urge to cough. Of course drinking water, tea and soups should also be encouraged, but there is something about chewing gum that has been a major source of relief.

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Comment from: floridagirl, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: June 05

I've had bronchitis when I was in my twenties. I was healthy and all but still it took 4 to 6 months to fully heal. I got it on the plane and was in another climate on a summer vacation. It was so bad I had to go to the emergency room and had a hard time catching my breath which is a very bad feeling. I wanted to go home but was too sick to board a plane. Now 16 years later, I have it again and it is a nightmare. At least I'm at home, but the things I would like to point out that I learned are the following: Stop smoking, or at least get natural e-cigarette, and drink lots water. Have your air quality tested, your house could be making you sick. Along with your AC it could have a number of things from mold growing particles and dust etc., blowing right into your lungs for hours while you are sleeping, so you may need your ducts cleaned. This is if anything could be aggravating your symptoms and making things worse. Swimming is good and also have someone knock on your back, it breaks up the mucous and helps cough it up. Lots of hot fluids, and medicines and inhaler are good, but only time was the key to getting better. Soup was good anyhow, hope this helps some, good luck.

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