Short duration bronchitis results from a severe attack of cold. Such a condition, where the symptoms appear suddenly and severely, is then termed as Acute Bronchitis. This disorder may also follow or accompany the flu, or it may begin without having had an infection. Acute bronchitis usually lasts for about 10 days.
Symptoms of Acute Bronchitis There is a slight fever, 100–102°F (37.8 to 38.9°C), with an irritating, dry, painful cough that starts to produce thick, yellow sputum after two or three days. At this stage, the fever often recedes and the pain from coughing diminishes. Even after the condition improves, a slight cough commonly remains for another week or two. Severe cases may also cause general weakness and chest pain.
Treatment of Acute Bronchitis It is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. If the inflammation extends downward to the ends of the bronchial tree and into the small bronchi (bronchioles) and then into the air sacs, bronchopneumonia results. The most effective way to deal with acute bronchitis consists of the following:
- Avoid fatigue by getting proper rest.
- Stay indoors when the weather is cold and windy.
- Drink large amounts of fluid to help keep the chest mucus liquefied.
- Congestive mucus should be coughed up. So, avoid the use of cough suppressants.
- A doctor may recommend an expectorant to help loosen the mucus.
The patient needs bed rest in a warm, humid room with frequent steam inhalations from a vaporizer to soften the infected mucus in the bronchi. Hot drinks should be given as they help the patient cough up and spit out the phlegm. They also prevent dehydration. Any sedative cough medicine may be taken at night to help the patient sleep. A cough syrup with an expectorant, may help during the day.
A doctor should also be consulted when sputum (the mucus mixed with saliva) produced by the coughing is greenish–yellow and thick rather than gray and watery, or when fever rises and chest pains become severe. The doctor will be able to prescribe the appropriate antibiotics required to clear the infection. Older people should consult a doctor about whether to take antibiotics to eliminate the risk of serious bacterial infection due to lowered resistance.