What causes acute bronchitis?
Acute bronchitis usually occurs due to a viral infection. Most of the time, the same viruses that set off the common cold and flu also prompt acute bronchitis.
At times, bacterial infections from Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and Bordetella pertussis can also trigger acute bronchitis.
Aside from viruses and bacteria, the following can also cause acute bronchitis:
- Respiratory irritants like tobacco smoke, dust, strong fumes from chemicals at work or cleaning compounds at home
- A rare fungal infection commonly caused by yeast fungus candida Albicans
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) can irritate and damage the airways, resulting in acute bronchitis
Is acute bronchitis contagious?
Certain conditions like a viral infection make acute bronchitis contagious. The respiratory droplets the body expels when someone with acute bronchitis speaks, coughs, or sneezes can infect other individuals in close proximity. The virus can also transfer from one person to another by direct skin-to-skin contact like shaking hands.
How is it diagnosed?
Doctors can easily diagnose acute bronchitis by doing a physical examination as well as certain tests such as chest x-rays, pulse oximetry, and sputum culture. These tests not only diagnose bronchitis, but they also help doctors rule out pneumonia and other severe respiratory conditions.
Treatment and management
Usually, acute bronchitis resolves on its own and does not usually require the use of antibiotics since its most common cause is a viral infection.
To help alleviate symptoms and to recover faster, here are some tips on how to treat acute bronchitis at home:
- Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water
- Get plenty of sleep and rest
- Limit or avoid caffeine and alcohol, as these can worsen your symptoms
- Quit smoking and/or steer away from secondhand smoke
- Avoid other respiratory irritants such as dust and strong fumes by wearing a face mask
- Use a humidifier at home to loosen and clear mucus build-up
- Take over-the-counter medications like cough medicines and pain relievers
- Refrain from holding in coughs and expel sputum as much as possible
- Use saline sprays, inhalers, or steam to relieve a stuffy nose
- Make sure to get your seasonal flu shot or ask your doctor if you need to update your pneumococcal vaccine
If these home treatments fail to ease your symptoms, consult a doctor right away for proper treatment and medications.