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: WASP13, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: March 21

I was diagnosed 3 days ago. I am a 55 year old female. I have never been so sick. They also found a nodule in one of my lungs during a CAT scan. I have also developed a horrid wheeze. Yes, it feels like an elephant is sitting on your chest. I am on steroids, anti-biotic, inhaler, z-pac, you name it. I am literally scared to death. The only thing I can tell you is if you smoke-STOP immediately. Besides the fact that I've been so sick I've actually been unable to smoke much over the last 2 weeks. I'm told the condition is also COPD & although non-reversible, I can stop it in its tracks by stopping smoking. I find it hard to believe but at this point I wish I had never smoked. I notice that only a few here admit to smoking but I'm curious .How many here that have been diagnosed with bronchitis smoke? Both ER doctors say that this is the main cause of this problem.

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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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