How Long Does Bronchitis Last?

February 9, 2024

Bronchitis, often referred to as a chest cold, is an inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes which take air to and from the lungs. It is a common respiratory illness, yet some are surprised to find out that it comes in two forms: acute and chronic.

Below, you will find some basic information provided by our Chapman Highway AFC Urgent Care team to help you navigate the two forms of bronchitis.

What Causes Bronchitis?

The cause of bronchitis will depend upon which form a person has. Acute bronchitis is usually caused by the same viruses that cause the flu and the common cold. It may also be caused by a bacterial infection, or by physical or chemical agents that are inhaled.

Chronic bronchitis, on the other hand, is usually caused by long-term environmental exposure to inhaled irritants that damage the lungs and airways such as air pollution, and chemical fumes or dusts. Second-hand smoke can also cause chronic bronchitis and in the United States, cigarette smoke is the primary cause. Those with a family history of chronic bronchitis are at additional risk of developing it themselves. Chronic bronchitis is one of the conditions included in COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Common Bronchitis Symptoms

  • A cough that is frequent and produces mucus
  • A lack of energy
  • A wheezing sound when breathing (may or may not be present)
  • A fever (may or may not be present)
  • Shortness of breath

How Long Will I Have to Deal With Bronchitis?

How long it takes to recover from bronchitis depends upon which type of bronchitis is affecting you. Most symptoms of acute bronchitis can last for up to two weeks, but it’s not uncommon for a lingering cough to hang on for up to eight weeks. Getting plenty of rest can help you recover more quickly.

If you have had repeating bouts of bronchitis with episodes lasting three months over the course of two years, you may have chronic bronchitis. While chronic bronchitis is not curable and the episodes last longer than acute bronchitis, your doctor can help you manage the symptoms through various methods, including bronchodilators. Two of three people who have suffered from bronchitis at least twice over a five-year period also have asthma.

Home Remedies for Bronchitis

  • Drink fluids every one to two hours unless your doctor has restricted your fluid intake.
  • Rest.
  • Do not smoke and stay away from all kinds of smoke.
  • Relieve body aches by taking aspirin or acetaminophen.
  • Follow your doctor’s instructions on ways to help you clear your mucus.
  • Use a humidifier.
  • Try herbal teas or lemon water with one to two tablespoons of honey to provide comfort.

If you experience any of the symptoms below, you should visit our AFC center for treatment.

When to See a Doctor for Bronchitis

  • Fever over 100.4°F
  • A cough that lasts more than three weeks
  • Continued wheezing or shortness of breath that stops you from activities
  • Expelling discolored or bloody mucus from the mouth or nose

Whether you’re dealing with bronchitis or some other illness, our AFC Urgent Care Chapman Highway center can help you feel better. Visit us today.

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