In most of the cases of acute bronchitis it resolves without medical treatment in two weeks. Often cases of bronchitis do not require treatment from a doctor, and the symptoms can be easily managed at home. There is no cure for chronic bronchitis, but healthy living will help. In particular, the patient should stop smoking, if he or she smokes.
Managing Symptoms At Home
A person suffering from bronchitis must:
- Get plenty of rest.
- Drink lots of fluids – this helps prevent dehydration and thins the mucus in your lungs, making it easier to cough up.
- Treat headaches, fever, and aches and pains with paracetamol or ibuprofen – although ibuprofen is not recommended if a person has asthma.
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has recommended that over-the-counter cough medicines should not be given to children under the age of six. As an alternative to an over-the-counter cough medicine, try making your own mixture of honey and lemon, which can help soothe a painful throat and ease your cough.
If you smoke, you should stop immediately. Smoking intensifies bronchitis and increases your risk of developing a long-term (chronic) condition. Stopping smoking while you have bronchitis can also be the perfect chance to quit altogether.
In some situations, the doctor may prescribe medications, including:
- Antibiotics.Although treatment from a GP is rarely necessary, there may be times when the patient should see one. The doctor will not routinely prescribe antibiotics, as bronchitis is nearly always caused by a virus. Antibiotics have no effect on viruses, and prescribing them when they are unnecessary can, over time, make bacteria more resistant to antibiotic treatment.
The doctor will only prescribe antibiotics if the patient has an increased risk of developing complications, such as pneumonia. Antibiotics may be recommended for:
- Premature babies.
- Elderly people over the age of 80.
- People with a history of heart, lung, kidney or liver disease.
- People with a weakened immune system, which could be the result of an underlying condition or a side effect of a treatment such as steroid medication.
- People with cystic fibrosis.
If you are prescribed antibiotics for bronchitis, it is likely to be a five-day course of amoxicillin, ox tetracycline or doxycycline. Possible side effects of these medicines include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, but they are uncommon.
- Cough medicine.It is best not to suppress a cough that brings up mucus, because coughing helps remove irritants from your lungs and air passages. If your cough keeps you from sleeping, you might try cough suppressants at bedtime.
- Other medications.If a person has allergies, asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the doctor may recommend an inhaler and other medications to reduce irritation and open narrowed passages in your lungs.
Treatment for Chronic bronchitis
Chronic bronchitis is treated in the same way as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). For example:
- A type of medication called mucolytic can be used to make mucus easier to cough up.
- An exercise program known as pulmonary rehabilitation can help you cope better with your symptoms.
If a person has chronic bronchitis, he may benefit from pulmonary rehabilitation — a breathing exercise program in which a respiratory therapist teaches the patient how to breathe more easily and increase his or her ability to exercise.