You can’t stop coughing, you’re fatigued, and it’s hard to catch your breath. These are all signs of bronchitis.
Bronchitis is a respiratory virus that causes inflammation in your bronchial tubes, which carry air to and from your lungs. The inflammation causes mucus to build up in your airways and leads to coughing and often shortness of breath.
Although many cases of bronchitis go away on their own, coughing non-stop and feeling tired and achy all week isn’t fun for anyone. And sometimes severe bronchitis can lead to more serious illnesses, like pneumonia.
That’s why our team of providers at Smart Clinic Urgent Care want to help you spot the signs of bronchitis so you can get prompt and proper care.
Is it bronchitis, a cold, or pneumonia?
Although bronchitis shares symptoms similar to colds and pneumonia, there are subtle differences between the three.
First, pneumonia attacks the air sacs in your lungs, called the alveoli, and pneumonia symptoms are far more severe than bronchitis. Unlike bronchitis, pneumonia can be life-threatening if it’s severe. In some cases, bronchitis can lead to pneumonia.
On the other hand, a common cold is like a less severe form of bronchitis. You may have a sore throat and fever, but your symptoms usually go away after a few days.
What to look for if you have bronchitis
The signs of bronchitis vary, depending on whether it’s acute or chronic.
Acute bronchitis often stems from a common cold or viral infection and normally resolves in about 10-14 days. Common symptoms of acute bronchitis include:
- Coughing with mucus
- Chest discomfort
- Body aches
- Sore throat
If you smoke cigarettes, we recommend stopping until you’re healthy, as smoking makes bronchitis symptoms worse.
Chronic bronchitis is an ongoing condition that causes persistent coughing for at least three months for two consecutive years. It’s part of a group of diseases called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Patients who smoke frequently have a high risk of developing chronic bronchitis. In fact, up to 75% of people who smoke or used to smoke have chronic bronchitis, according to MedlinePlus. Other risk factors are long-term exposure to lung irritants, pollutants, and aging.
The signs of chronic bronchitis include:
- Squeaky or whistling sound when taking a breath
- Frequent coughing that often produces mucus
- Tightness in your chest
- Shortness of breath
Whether it’s acute or chronic bronchitis, you should always get medical care right away if your coughing makes it hard for you to catch your breath. The medical experts at Smart Clinic Urgent Care are well-equipped to handle and treat bronchitis, COPD, and asthma.
The first step to treating bronchitis is to determine how severe your symptoms are. When you visit our urgent care clinic for bronchitis, we first discuss your symptoms and perform a physical exam. Your Smart Clinic Urgent Care provider may perform blood work and a chest X-ray, depending on your symptoms.
Acute bronchitis typically resolves on its own. We may provide you with medication, like cough medicine or anti-inflammatories, if necessary. We recommend getting plenty of rest to help keep your immune system strong and using a clean humidifier to ease your cough.
Chronic bronchitis doesn’t have a cure, but our team can treat your symptoms to improve your condition and quality of life.
Using an inhaler relaxes and opens up your airways so you can breathe easier, and some inhalers have steroids that reduce inflammation. We might recommend certain lifestyle changes as well, like quitting smoking and avoiding irritants that can make your symptoms flare-up.
Think you have bronchitis? If so, don’t hesitate to visit Smart Clinic Urgent Care at our two convenient offices in West Covina and Santa Clarita, California. Get expert treatment for your bronchitis by calling, visiting us online, or simply walking in today.