Acute bronchitis tends to clear up within a two-week period. Antibiotics will usually be prescribed by your doctor if the cause is determined as a bacterial infection.
If you have other conditions such as asthma or allergies, or you experience wheezing, your doctor may also recommend an inhaler (bronchodilator) to help open up the airways and enable you to breathe a little easier as you recover. Other medications may also be prescribed to help decrease inflammation and heal narrowed passages in the lungs.
It’s not pleasant to experience, however bringing up mucus is a good thing as it is the body’s way of clearing out your lungs and air passages. A doctor may not suggest an expectorant cough medicine for this reason, unless you are unable to sleep at night because of your persistent cough. In this instance, a suppressant may help you to rest / sleep. It is best to avoid cough medicine for children under 4 years of age, unless advised by your doctor.
If your doctor diagnoses chronic bronchitis, pulmonary rehabilitation may be recommended. This is a breathing exercise programme whereby a respiratory therapist teaches you techniques to improve your breathing, as well as advises ways to increase your ability to exercise (which is something most people with COPD and chronic bronchitis struggle with), and healthier nutrition options.
Paediatric treatment where chronic bronchitis is diagnosed includes rest, use of antipyretics (to help reduce fever), sufficient hydration and avoidance of smoke and other aggravating fumes or chemicals. Analgesics (painkillers) and antipyretics help to target the symptoms of paediatric bronchitis. Bronchodilators administered by means of an inhaler and spacer may also be of benefit to children.
Treating bronchitis at home
To alleviate your symptoms your doctor will also advise you to:
- Drink at least 8 – 12 glasses of water a day. Water helps to thin out the mucus build-up, and also makes it easier for you to cough up and get rid of.
- Take a course of over-the-counter pain relievers. Aspirin and Ibuprofen may be recommended to help alleviate any pain and fever that you are experiencing. Appropriate pain and fever medications for children will be prescribed depending on their age and condition.
- Use a warm mist humidifier to assist with loosening up mucus.