What is acute bronchitis?

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes, the airways that carry air to your lungs. There are two main types of bronchitis: acute and chronic.

What causes acute bronchitis?

A cold or flu virus is a common cause of acute bronchitis. These germs spread through physical contact or the air when people cough. Exposure to tobacco smoke, air pollution, dust, vapors and fumes also can result in acute bronchitis.

What are the symptoms of acute bronchitis?

Symptoms include wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and a cough that often brings up mucus.

How does Ohio State diagnose acute bronchitis?

Your doctor will diagnose bronchitis based on your signs and symptoms. He or she may use a stethoscope to listen for wheezing or abnormal sounds in your lungs and ask you several questions about your cough: How long have you had it? What are you coughing up? How frequently do you cough? Your doctor also may ask about your medical history, your exposure to air pollution and other irritants, whether you recently had a cold or flu and whether you smoke or spend time around others who do.

How does Ohio State treat acute bronchitis?

Most cases of acute bronchitis get better in a few days, but your cough can last for several weeks, even after the infection is gone. Treatments include rest, fluids and aspirin (for adults) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) to treat fever. Steam from a humidifier also may help, while inhaled medicine may open your airways if you’re having trouble breathing. You probably don’t need antibiotics, which don’t work against viruses, the most common cause.

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