How Common Is Bronchitis?

February 13, 2024

Did you know that more than 3 million people get sick with bronchitis each year in the United States? For most, the inconvenience lasts just a week or two and the rest required while recovering makes it the perfect time to binge your favorite shows.

Below, our AFC Urgent Care Gastonia team provides more information about bronchitis and provides tips on how to best deal with the symptoms.

What Is Bronchitis?

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the lining of the trachea and bronchial tubes which carry air to and from the lungs. This inflammation causes the lining of the bronchial tubes and trachea to swell and fill with mucus which causes a deep and sometimes nagging cough. People who have bronchitis often cough up thickened mucus, which can be discolored. The cough is a key indicator of bronchitis. Bronchitis may be either acute or chronic, and it can turn into pneumonia if left untreated or not treated quickly.

Acute bronchitis develops from the same viruses that cause the cold and flu. Chronic bronchitis is a more serious condition characterized by a productive cough that lasts at least three months and is often tied to a history of smoking, however, it can also be tied to other environmental pollutants, dust, or gases.

We’ve listed some common symptoms of both types of bronchitis below.

Common Acute and Chronic Bronchitis Symptoms

  • Cough
  • Production of mucus (sputum), which can be clear, white, yellowish-gray, or green in color—rarely, it may be streaked with blood
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Slight fever and chills
  • Chest discomfort

How Serious Is Bronchitis?

Most people recover from the symptoms of acute bronchitis over the course of two weeks, though the cough can hang on for a couple of months. If you are in otherwise good health, your lungs should return to normal after you’ve recovered from the initial infection.

Chronic bronchitis, however, is a more serious condition that develops over time. Symptoms may come and go, but there is no cure for chronic bronchitis. The extended periods of inflammation cause the sticky mucus to build up in the airways, leading to long-term breathing difficulties that your doctor can help manage through therapies and medications. Chronic bronchitis is grouped with other illnesses that fall under the term chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.

We have listed some good prevention techniques below to help you lower your risk of developing bronchitis.

Ways to Prevent Bronchitis

  • Avoid being in close contact with anyone who is sick.
  • Avoid sharing glasses or utensils with someone who has bronchitis, a cold, COVID-19, or the flu.
  • Don’t touch used tissue, since viruses that cause bronchitis can be spread through mucus.
  • Get the flu shot annually and get the COVID-19 vaccine and applicable boosters.
  • Wash your hands often in warm, soapy water.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with dirty hands.
  • If you smoke, stop.

The old and young are most susceptible to getting bronchitis. The good news is that the rates of chronic bronchitis have been declining as fewer people smoke. If you find yourself dealing with bronchitis, the following tips should help.

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 or fill a bowl with hot water and breathe over it to help your lungs breathe better.
  • Try herbal teas or lemon water with one to two tablespoons of honey to provide comfort.

Have further questions about bronchitis or other respiratory illnesses? Reach out today. We’d be happy to assist you.

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