What Do I Need to Know About Bronchitis?

February 9, 2024

What Should I Know about Bronchitis?

Bronchitis is a very common respiratory illness affecting millions of people in the U.S. every year with varying levels of severity. Though it is prevalent, if left untreated it may lead to more serious issues, so it is important to be aware of its signs and symptoms.

What Causes Bronchitis?

There are two distinct types of bronchitis, each with a different cause. Acute bronchitis is quite common and develops from a cold or other respiratory infection such as a chest cold. Typically viral, acute bronchitis is caused by the same viruses that cause colds and the flu. It may also be caused by chemical or physical agents that are inhaled. Most cases are diagnosed during flu season so a vaccine may help you avoid it or lessen its severity.

Chronic bronchitis is not caused by a virus or bacteria but is usually, though not always, caused by smoking. It can also be caused or made worse through exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke, air pollution, dust or toxic gases in your home or work environment.

Are you at Risk for Bronchitis?

If you are concerned about bronchitis, it is helpful to keep certain risk factors in mind. While you may not be able to control them all it is beneficial to be aware of those you can.

Below are several risk factors one should be aware of as it relates to bronchitis. Some factors can be controlled while being aware of the others is helpful.

Bronchitis Risk Factors

  • Cigarette smoke. People who smoke or who live with a smoker are at higher risk of developing both acute bronchitis and chronic bronchitis.
  • Exposure to irritants at work. Your risk of developing bronchitis is greater if you work around certain lung irritants, such as grains or textiles, or are exposed to chemical fumes.
  • Gastric reflux. Repeated bouts of severe heartburn can irritate your throat and make you more prone to developing bronchitis.
  • Genetics. People with relatives who have chronic bronchitis may also be more likely to develop it themselves. Also, those with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency may also be at increased risk.
  • Age. Most who are affected by chronic bronchitis are at least 40 years old when symptoms develop.

How Long Will Bronchitis Last If I Get It?

How long your bout of bronchitis lasts will depend upon which type of bronchitis you have. Most symptoms of acute bronchitis last for up to two weeks though, for some, a lingering cough might last up to eight weeks.

Chronic bronchitis, however, lasts much longer than the acute form. Symptoms related to chronic bronchitis last at least three months and subsequent episodes may come and go for two or more years following recovery from the initial episode. Repeated bouts of bronchitis may mean that you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Ways to Prevent Bronchitis

  • Avoid cigarette smoke. Cigarette smoke increases the risk of developing chronic bronchitis.
  • Get vaccinated. Many cases of acute bronchitis result from influenza, a virus. Getting a yearly flu vaccine can help protect you from getting the flu. You may also want to consider the COVID-19 vaccine. If you are 60+ you might also consider getting the RSV or pneumococcal vaccine.
  • Wash your hands. To reduce your risk of catching a viral infection, wash your hands frequently and get in the habit of using alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

Acute bronchitis it typically treated with rest, liquids, and over-the-counter cough remedies until symptoms subside. Chronic bronchitis is best helped with the assistance of a doctor and access to breathing treatments and inhalers.

If you have any other questions about bronchitis, do not hesitate to reach out to our team at AFC Urgent Care Farragut today!

Blog Categories

Be the first to read...

More Blog Posts

About Our Services:

Call (865) 288-0119 for more information about our Farragut urgent care services.