Acute bronchitis is a respiratory condition that causes inflammation of the bronchial tubes, which are the airways that carry air to the lungs. This condition is usually caused by a viral infection, but can also be caused by bacteria or irritants such as smoke or pollution.
Symptoms of acute bronchitis typically include:
- Cough (which may produce mucus)
- Chest discomfort or pain
- Shortness of breath or wheezing
- Sore throat
- Fatigue or weakness
- Mild fever or chills
Acute bronchitis is usually self-limited and resolves within a few weeks. However, in some cases, it can lead to complications such as pneumonia, especially in older adults or people with underlying medical conditions.
Diagnosis of acute bronchitis typically involves a physical exam, medical history, and chest X-ray to rule out other respiratory conditions such as pneumonia. In some cases, a sputum culture or blood test may also be performed to identify the cause of the infection.
Treatment of acute bronchitis usually involves self-care measures such as rest, hydration, and over-the-counter medications to relieve symptoms such as cough and fever. Antibiotics are not effective for viral infections, which are the most common cause of acute bronchitis, but may be prescribed if a bacterial infection is suspected or confirmed.
Prevention of acute bronchitis involves avoiding exposure to irritants such as smoke and pollution, practicing good hand hygiene, and getting vaccinated against respiratory infections such as influenza and pneumococcal disease.
If you experience symptoms of acute bronchitis, seek medical attention to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment. In some cases, especially if you are at increased risk for complications, your doctor may recommend additional tests or treatments.