Slideshows Images Quizzes

Copyright © 2018 by RxList Inc. RxList does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See additional information.

What Is the Best Medicine and Treatment for Bronchitis?

Reviewed on 2/16/2021

Why does bronchitis occur?

Acute bronchitis is also called a chest cold. It often occurs after an upper respiratory infection (URI). The best treatment for bronchitis includes rest, fluids, a humidifier, honey, lozenges and prescription medications and interventions, if necessary.
Acute bronchitis is also called a chest cold. It often occurs after an upper respiratory infection (URI). The best treatment for bronchitis includes rest, fluids, a humidifier, honey, lozenges and prescription medications and interventions, if necessary.

Acute bronchitis is sometimes referred to as a chest cold. It can develop after an upper respiratory infection (URI), which you probably know better as the common cold

Bronchitis occurs when the airways that carry air to your lungs, called the bronchial tubes, become inflamed and irritated. Your bronchial tubes produce excess mucus and cause coughing when they become inflamed. 

Usually acute bronchitis is not serious. If it isn’t treated properly it can develop into pneumonia

What is bronchitis? 

Anyone can get bronchitis, depending on which type it is. Here are the two most common kinds of bronchitis that you or your loved ones can get infected with.

Acute bronchitis

Acute bronchitis usually starts with a cold. It is caused by the same types of viruses that cause a common cold or flu. These include rhinovirus and influenza A and B. 

Acute bronchitis can also be caused by bacteria, but that is much rarer. It occurs in less than 10% of cases of acute bronchitis. 

If you have bronchitis, you may have any of the following symptoms: 

When acute bronchitis isn’t treated properly it could transform into pneumonia

Unlike bronchitis, which affects the airways that lead to your lungs, pneumonia affects your alveoli. These are the air sacs inside of your lungs that process oxygen

Pneumonia is much worse than bronchitis. It can be life-threatening in infants, older people, and other people with weakened immune systems.  

Chronic bronchitis

There is another type of bronchitis called chronic bronchitis. 

Chronic bronchitis is caused by the irritation of your airways. This is usually from smoking or your exposure to other irritants such as toxic gasses. 

Chronic bronchitis is actually a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD can cause airflow blockage and breathing problems. 

Unlike acute bronchitis, chronic bronchitis is not caused by a virus or bacteria. The main cause of chronic bronchitis is cigarette smoking. It may also be caused by air pollution or your work environment

Symptoms of chronic bronchitis can include: 

Diagnosis of bronchitis

Only a licensed healthcare professional can diagnose bronchitis.

To diagnose acute bronchitis, your doctor will listen to your symptoms and do a physical exam. There are no specific tests for bronchitis, but your doctor may do blood tests to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms. 

Your doctor may order a chest x-ray if you have a fever in order to rule out pneumonia. 

To diagnose chronic bronchitis, your doctor may call for pulmonary function tests to see how your lungs function. 

When testing your lung function, your doctor may use a spirometer, which is a device that you blow into. The spirometer helps find out how much air your lungs can hold and how quickly you can get air out of your lungs.

Treatments for bronchitis

Since acute bronchitis is usually caused by a virus, antibiotics will not help. Acute bronchitis will most likely get better on its own, so treatment is generally focused on relieving your symptoms. 

You can try the following measures to feel better: 

Chronic bronchitis can't be cured, but your doctor may recommend any of the following to help manage your symptoms: 


 

Possible side effects and complications 

There are some possible side effects of the medications used to treat chronic bronchitis. The types of side effects depend on the type of medicines. 

Side effects of steroid inhalers can include: 

Side effects of bronchodilators can include:

Oxygen Therapy is generally safe, but it can have the following side effects and risks: 

QUESTION

COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is the same as adult-onset asthma. See Answer

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

References
SOURCES:

American Family Physician: "Acute Bronchitis."

American Lung Association: "Bronchitis (Acute)."

Canadian Family Physician: "Acute bronchitis."

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Chest Cold (Acute Bronchitis)."

Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Chronic Bronchitis."

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: "Oxygen Therapy."

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: "Pneumonia."

National Health Service: "Bronchodilators."

National Health Service: "Steroid inhalers."

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors