Bronchitis is an inflammation of the airways that lead to the lungs. It is usually caused by a virus or bacteria, and can also be caused by environmental irritants, such as smoke or dust. Bronchitis can be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term). Most cases of acute bronchitis are caused by a virus and will go away on its own, but chronic bronchitis usually requires medical treatment.
Causes of Bronchitis
Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes, the passageways that carry air to and from your lungs. It’s usually caused by viruses, but sometimes bacterial infections or irritants such as air pollution, cigarette smoke, dust, or chemical fumes can cause it as well.
Symptoms of Bronchitis
The most common symptoms of bronchitis are a cough, chest congestion, and shortness of breath. Other symptoms may include fatigue, fever, chills, sore throat, and a runny or stuffy nose.
Your doctor will diagnose bronchitis based on your symptoms and a physical exam. Your doctor may also order tests to check for an infection, such as a chest X-ray or sputum test.
Treatment for bronchitis depends on the type and severity of your condition. Most cases of acute bronchitis will go away on their own without treatment and can be managed with home remedies, such as getting plenty of rest and drinking lots of fluids. However, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics if a bacterial infection is causing your bronchitis. For chronic bronchitis, your doctor may prescribe medicines to help reduce inflammation and mucus in your lungs.
The best way to prevent bronchitis is to practice good hygiene and to avoid exposure to environmental irritants, such as smoke and dust. If you are around someone with a cold or the flu, you should also take measures to protect yourself, such as washing your hands regularly and avoiding close contact with the person.