Acute Bronchitis | Treatment

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How is acute bronchitis treated?

Most cases of acute bronchitis will go away on their own. It's a good idea to get plenty of rest, drink lots of noncaffeinated fluids (for example, water and fruit juices) and increase the humidity in your environment. Over-the-counter pain relievers can reduce inflammation, ease pain and lower fever. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (such as ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin) help with pain and inflammation. Acetaminophen helps with pain and reducing fever.

It is okay to take an over-the-counter cough suppressant if your cough is dry (not producing any mucus). It's best not to suppress a cough that brings up mucus because this type of cough helps clear the mucus from your bronchial tree faster. Cough medicine is not recommended for children, especially those younger than 4 years of age.

Because acute bronchitis is usually caused by viruses, antibiotics do not help. Even if you cough up mucus that is colored or thick, antibiotics probably won’t help you get better any faster. However, if your doctor thinks your bronchitis is caused by a bacteria, he or she may prescribe antibiotics.

If you smoke, you should quit. This will help your bronchial tree heal faster.

Some people who have acute bronchitis need medicines that are usually used to treat asthma. If you hear yourself wheezing, this indicates you may need asthma medicines. These medicines can help open the bronchial tubes and clear out mucus. They are usually given with an inhaler. An inhaler sprays the medicine right into the bronchial tree. Your doctor will decide if this treatment is right for you.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 07/13
Created: 05/01

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