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    Bronchitis Diagnosis and Treatment: What to Know

    If you recently had a cold that turned into a nagging cough, you might have acute bronchitis. (In medical terms, “acute” means conditions that come on quickly and last a short time).

    Bronchitis happens when your bronchial tubes, which carry oxygen from your windpipe to your lungs, become inflamed. The lining of the tubes makes mucus, which makes your cough worse.

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    The condition can also cause wheezing and make it hard to catch your breath.

    To know for sure whether your recent illness is acute bronchitis and not an allergy or other problem, you should see your doctor.

    While many cases go away on their own, others require treatment. Learn more about how doctors diagnose and treat bronchitis:

    How Do I Know Whether it’s Acute or Chronic?

    First, it’s important to figure out a time line.

    If you have a cough and breathing problems that have lasted for months or years, it might be chronic bronchitis. This is a long-term health problem that needs ongoing treatment.

    Some people with very serious chronic bronchitis have it their entire lives. Others can successfully treat it. You’re more likely to get it if you smoke.

    This usually requires a combination of medications and lifestyle changes. Important ways you can improve your lung health include:

    But those steps are important if you think you have acute bronchitis, too.

    To learn other ways to treat your cough, see your doctor to find out what’s causing it.

    Diagnosis of Acute Bronchitis

    When you see your doctor, be ready to talk about your symptoms in detail. You should be able to answer:

    • How long have you had your cough?
    • Are you coughing up mucus?
    • Is there blood in your sputum?
    • Did you ever have a fever or other symptoms, such as chest tightness?
    • Did you have a cold before the cough?
    • Are you wheezing?
    • Do you have trouble catching your breath?
    • Have you been around other people who have the same kinds of symptoms?

    At the appointment, your doctor will go over your symptoms and give you a physical exam. He’ll listen to your chest while you cough. This may be enough to make a diagnosis. You may not need any tests. However, there are other times when you might need one or more.

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