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Understanding Bronchitis -- Diagnosis and Treatment

What Are the Treatments for Bronchitis? continued...

Do not take an over-the-counter cough suppressant to treat chronic bronchitis, unless your doctor advises it. As with acute bronchitis, the productive coughing associated with chronic bronchitis is helpful in ridding the lungs of excess mucus. In fact, your doctor may even prescribe an expectorant if you have mucus that you cannot easily cough up. However, if you notice any increase in the thickness or amount of the phlegm, you may be coming down with a bacterial infection. In that case, your doctor may prescribe a 5- to10-day course of broad-spectrum antibiotics, which fight a range of bacteria.

If you are overweight, your doctor may suggest that you diet to avoid putting excessive strain on your heart.

If you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), your doctor may add an anticholinergic bronchodilator, medication that temporarily dilates the lungs' constricted airways, or steroids to reduce inflammation in the airways. Quitting smoking is the most important and most successful treatment for chronic bronchitis and COPD.

In severe cases of chronic bronchitis with COPD, your body's ability to transfer oxygen from your lungs into the bloodstream is significantly reduced. Your doctor may prescribe oxygen therapy, either on a continuous or on an as-needed basis. Oxygen-delivering devices are widely available. If you use an oxygen tank at home, be sure to take special care not to expose the apparatus to open flames, flammable materials (alcohol and aerosol sprays, for example), or to sources of direct heat, such as hair dryers or radiators.

If you smoke, your doctor will urge you to quit. Studies show that people who kick the habit even in the advanced stages of chronic bronchitis and COPD not only can reduce the severity of their symptoms but also increase their life expectancy.

Pulmonary rehabilitation is sometimes prescribed for chronic bronchitis. In rehabilitation, you are taught exercises and ways to breathe that can help ease your symptoms.

Home Remedies for Bronchitis

For acute bronchitis:
During the acute phase of bronchitis, if you are experiencing fever, shortness of breath, or wheezing, stay at home, keep warm, and drink plenty of fluids. You don't necessarily need to stay in bed, but don't overextend yourself. Consider using a vaporizer, or try inhaling steam over a sink full of hot water.

For chronic bronchitis:
If you have chronic bronchitis, avoid exposure to paint or exhaust fumes, dust, and people with colds. Consider using a vaporizer or inhaling steam over a sink full of hot water or in a hot shower. If you smoke, quit.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on March 21, 2014
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