What is acute bronchitis?
Acute bronchitis is
inflammation of the tubes that carry air to the
lungs (bronchial tubes). When these tubes get
inflamed, they swell and produce more
mucus. The swollen tubes and increased mucus trigger
cough and may make it difficult for you to breathe. Acute bronchitis usually
develops rapidly and lasts 2 to 3 weeks in otherwise healthy people.
What causes acute bronchitis?
bronchitis is usually caused by a
virus. It is more common during the winter months and
often develops after an
upper respiratory tract infection such as
influenza or a cold.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) may be a cause,
especially in adults older than 65. Only about 10% of cases of acute bronchitis
are caused by
Acute bronchitis can also be caused by exposure to smoke, chemicals, or
air pollution, all of which can irritate the bronchial tubes, or it may result
from accidentally inhaling (aspirating) food or vomit.
What are the risks of acute bronchitis?
otherwise healthy people, acute bronchitis poses little risk.
Pneumonia is the most serious complication and is most
likely to develop if you have a long-term (chronic) disease, such as
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD),
cystic fibrosis, or
heart failure, or a weak
immune system. Treatment for people with these
conditions generally depends on their condition.
How effective are antibiotics for acute bronchitis?
Research on antibiotics and acute bronchitis in
otherwise healthy people reports that antibiotics modestly reduce cough after 1
to 2 weeks, but they have no effect on a night cough, a cough with mucus, or
quality of life. In people who also have symptoms of a common cold and have
been ill less than a week, antibiotics generally are not effective.2, 3
What are the risks of using antibiotics?
side effects, such as diarrhea, nausea, upset stomach, vomiting, sore mouth,
skin rash, dizziness, and headache. Frequent and/or inappropriate use of
antibiotics can lead to
antibiotic resistance-the bacteria change in ways that
allow them to survive despite the medicine, so that the antibiotic may not work
the next time it is used.