Often developing a cough and other respiratory infections could be bronchitis symptoms. If you are still confused, then the simplest indication is repeated cough spells. The other best way to avoid confusion is to know if the cough is bronchitis cough by knowing the details of BRONCHITIS and asking yourself ‘’bronchitis when to see a doctor’’. Let us do that here.
What Is Bronchitis?
It’s an inflammation of the bronchial tubes’ lining and these tubes transport air to and fro to the lungs. People having bronchitis cough frequently and can notice mucus that’s discolored and thick.
Types Of Bronchitis
Bronchitis is of 2 types;
- Acute and
The former is common while the latter is a serious condition.
Acute bronchitis is even known as the chest cold and often disappears within 7 days to 10 days. Although the cough may be present for a few days, it is not a big problem and it subdues with time.
On the other hand, chronic bronchitis is a repeated condition and could as well be part of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This condition is serious and needs medical intervention.
The major cause of chronic bronchitis is smoking.
Symptoms Of Bronchitis
For either chronic or acute bronchitis, symptoms and signs may consist of;
- Presence of sputum (mucus) that is yellowish or white or yellowish-grey or green (rare). Sometimes blood streaks can also be seen in the mucus.
- Breathing shortness
- Slight chills and fever
- Discomfort in chest
- Runny and stuffy nose
- Slight fever
- Sore throat
- Feeling exhausted
If you are suffering from acute bronchitis there may be symptoms of cold such as body pains and headache. These pains go away in a week while a nagging cough could stay for a few weeks to many weeks.
Coming to chronic bronchitis it is a persistent cough that lingers for at least 3 months and this condition recurs for a minimum 2 successive years. If you are women having chronic bronchitis there is a chance of having periods while coughing or when symptoms worsen. In such situations, one may even have an acute infection besides chronic bronchitis.
Causes Of Bronchitis
Usually, acute bronchitis is caused by viruses, normally the same viruses that cause influenza(flu) and colds.
Chronic bronchitis is usually the cause of smoking and at times even passive smoking can cause it. The other cause is polluted air that’s high in toxic gases and dust.
Bronchitis Risk Factors
- Cigarette smoking
- Low resistance
- Exposure to lung irritants
- Gastric reflux
- History of lung diseases or infections
- Female smoker
Asthma is also one cause and risk factor, bronchitis. That’s the result of asthma called asthmatic bronchitis.
Is Bronchitis Contagious?
Yes. Majority of the time, acute bronchitis is the result of a virus like the flu virus.
Nevertheless, many varied viruses which are all contagious can lead to acute bronchitis and in such conditions bronchitis is contagious.
As a blunt rule chronic bronchitis isn’t contagious while acute bronchitis is contagious.
Bronchitis vs Pneumonia
Majority of people can’t usually differentiate between bronchitis and pneumonia and there is no fault as both of these conditions look alike. Besides, both these infections affect breathing and cause heavy coughing and intense pain. But the major difference is bronchitis is an inflammation of the airways whilst pneumonia is an infection of the lungs, in other words, bronchitis is inflammation of the bronchial tubes in the lungs and pneumonia is the inflammation in the air sacs of the lungs called the alveoli.
When To See A Doctor For Bronchitis?
You must see a doctor if your cough;
- Has mucus or blood which is dark or thick
- Gives restless nights
- Is present for 3 weeks and above
- Leads to chest pain
- Is making it hard to talk and has a woofing sound
- Is seen suddenly
- Leads to unknown weight loss
Besides coughing, one should also make a doctor appointment if one senses bad tasting fluid in the mouth, fever above 100.4 F, shortness or wheezing breath.
It is also better to see a doctor if you are aged more than 75 and have been suffering from cough for more than 3 weeks.
Treatment For Bronchitis
Acute bronchitis usually goes away on its own but if it is due to bacteria, antibiotics may be suggested. Besides acute bronchitis, if one has asthma, wheezes and allergies, inhalers and other medicines may be suggested.
For treating chronic bronchitis antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, bronchodilators, oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehab and others may be recommended.
Hope the answers to ‘bronchitis when to see a doctor’’ have been explained.
Sudheendra is a passionate blogger for 8 years and holds a Degree in Journalism & Mass Communications. His writings particularly focus on health, medicine, diet & lifestyle. For him, everything that interlinks and relates to health & medical world entices him. His write-ups aim at educating people not by just giving facts but by infusing human touch.