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Bronchitis Center

Bronchitis Treatment

Bronchitis treatment
Treatment for bronchitis depends upon diagnosis (acute versus chronic bronchitis). Treatment goals for acute bronchitis are to alleviate symptoms and to make easier breathing possible. For chronic bronchitis, treatment goals are the same, but on a long-term basis, typically through medication or oxygen therapy. Let's take a look at the treatment options available for each:

Acute bronchitis
Because most cases of acute bronchitis originate from a virus, simple care can treat most symptoms, including rest, fluids (without alcohol or caffeine), and the use of a humidifier. Although most cases of acute bronchitis do not originate from bacteria, if your doctor suspects so, antibiotics may be prescribed. Additionally, an inhaler may be prescribed in order to allow the airways to be opened up. Over-the-counter medications may include aspirin (for fever), cough suppressants (e.g. if coughing keeps a person up all night), and 'expectorants' which allow coughs to be more productive in relieving the bronchial tubes of mucus. However, cough suppressants may be counter-productive in most cases because the purpose of a cough is to relieve bronchial tubes of excessive mucus. Without a cough, bacteria can more easily multiply as mucus is not regularly expelled. It is best to check with your doctor regarding any medication to treat your bronchitis, particularly with children.

  • antibiotics (if caused by bacteria)
  • aspirin
  • cough expectorants
  • cough suppressants
  • fluids
  • inhaler
  • rest
  • the use of a humidifier

Chronic bronchitis
Care for those with chronic bronchitis may include medication to open up the airways, and relieve your bronchial tubes of excessive mucus. Both steroidal medicines (whether inhaled or in pill form), and bronchodilators will do this. Some medication may be taken through pill form in order to relieve difficulty breathing (e.g. theophylline). However, inhalers deliver the medication directly into your bronchial tube, and are widely used. Additionally, oxygen therapy may be recommended in order to supply vital oxygen to your blood stream and body.

Therapy may be recommended in order to make breathing easier. This therapy, called pulmonary rehabilitation, may involve breathing techniques when talking, such as pursing your lips when breathing out in order to force a person to slow their breathing down.

  • bronchodilators
  • inhalers
  • oxygen therapy
  • pulmonary rehabilitation
  • steroidal medicines

Prevention
There are a number of steps you can take to reduce the chances of developing bronchitis. These include:

Exercise
Exercising is generally effective at increasing the strength of the muscles used for breathing. Talk with your doctor on a plan that's appropriate for you and your needs.

Flu shot
Getting a flu shot just doesn't protect you against the flu - it reduces the chances of contracting flu-based acute bronchitis. This is especially important for those diagnosed with chronic bronchitis.

Reduce exposure to substances in the air
Whether hair spray, dust, etc., these substances can irritate the lungs and increase the likelihood of contracting acute bronchitis. Of course, long-term exposure to such substances is known to cause chronic bronchitis. Wearing proper safety gear (e.g. a mask that effectively filters out particles and fumes) is a smart safety measure.

Stop smoking
Smoking and second-hand smoke can weaken the body and make it susceptible to catching acute bronchitis. Long-term smoking is certainly a major cause of chronic bronchitis. Quitting smoking immediately can prevent damage either now or in the long-term.

Bronchitis is a treatable condition. Protecting your lungs by exercising common-sense measures against exposure to respiratory viruses, chemicals, and smoking will help prevent or reduce your chances for either acute or chronic bronchitis. But, even if you have been diagnosed with either condition, both medication and other treatments are available to make you breathe easier.

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