Need to know if your cough is something more serious than the symptom of a common cold? It may be bronchitis, a fairly common condition that often develops from a cold or respiratory infection, but can also develop from long-term smoking as well.
Acute bronchitis is the most common type of bronchitis, and as mentioned above, most often develops from the same viruses that cause colds. It can also develop from exposure to tobacco smoke, pollutants, dust, and chemical fumes; a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease can also cause acute bronchitis.
In the case of colds, acute bronchitis generally resolves itself within a few days, although the cough can linger for a few more days, or even as long as a week or more. If caused by exposure to irritants such as the ones mentioned above, the bronchitis will begin clearing up as soon as exposure to the irritant(s) stops.
Treatment for acute bronchitis is generally the same as for the common cold: rest, OTC medications to treat symptoms, use of a humidifier, and drinking fluids. Of course, your doctor might also suggest other medications as well, based on your medical history. For example, a doctor might suggest the use of an inhaler for a patient with acute bronchitis and asthma.
Chronic bronchitis is a more serious type of bronchitis, in which the lining of the bronchial tubes become permanently inflamed and thickened. This is a serious medical condition which requires medical treatment, and in most cases is caused by smoking. It can also be caused by environmental factors in the air in your home or workplace including dust, air pollution, toxic gases, etc.
The best treatment for chronic bronchitis is to talk with your doctor about pulmonary rehabilitation. Other treatments would involve lifestyle changes, including stopping smoking if that is the main cause of your chronic bronchitis. Additional lifestyle changes would include good health habits such as frequently washing your hands, the use of hand sanitizers, getting yearly flu and pneumonia vaccines, and avoiding secondhand smoke and those who are sick.
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