Bronchitis is a very common condition for which patients seek medical care. Many times it’s difficult to distinguish the difference between acute viral bronchitis, asthma, post-nasal drip syndrome, nasal allergies, gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), pneumonia, or other more severe conditions. Dr. Charles Song and Dr. Andrew Wong at the Song Institute of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology can properly diagnose bronchitis or other cough-related disease and provide you with an optimal treatment plan. If you have any questions about bronchitis, please call the office in Manhattan Beach, California, or book an appointment online.
Bronchitis is so common that there are over 100 million doctor visits every year in the United States specifically for the condition. The chief symptom of bronchitis is a cough, with or without sputum production, but patients suffering from bronchitis may also experience wheezing, shortness of breath, chest discomfort, and fatigue.
These symptoms are the result of inflammation of the lower respiratory tract, or the tree-like airways within the lungs. In order to properly treat bronchitis, your doctor must determine the underlying cause of this inflammation.
Acute bronchitis is a lower respiratory tract infection involving the large airways, or bronchi, with a cough lasting from one to three weeks. The infection is usually caused by common cold and flu viruses, whereas bacterial infections are much less common. Exposures to dust, air pollution, and tobacco smoke may also exacerbate this condition. Importantly, allergies and asthma may further complicate acute bronchitis.
Chronic bronchitis is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) most commonly caused by cigarette smoking, and defined by a productive chronic cough lasting at least three months, with recurrent episodes occurring for at least two years. The airways are persistently inflamed resulting in progressive airflow limitation which makes it hard to breathe.
Since acute bronchitis is most commonly a viral infection, it usually resolves on its own. Antibiotics are generally not helpful, and in fact, might only promote the development of resistant bacteria. They should only be considered in the case of a suspected bacterial infection.
Thus, most cases of acute bronchitis only require symptomatic relief with cough suppressants, analgesics for pain, and plenty of fluids and rest. Of course, patients with underlying asthma and allergies may need more aggressive management, which Dr. Song and Dr. Wong are well adept at handling.
Chronic bronchitis, on the other hand, is as the name suggests, an ongoing disease requiring a long-term treatment plan. Smoking cessation is critical, and various medications are available to help minimize the airflow limitation in your lungs. Severe cases may need supplemental oxygen therapy.
If you think you have bronchitis or have any additional questions about bronchitis, please call the office in Manhattan Beach, California, or book an appointment online.