What Helps You Feel Better When You Have Bronchitis?

Your bronchial tubes, which carry air to your lungs, can get infected and swollen. This is called bronchitis. When you’ve got it, you probably have a bad cough, lots of mucus, and maybe some general cold symptoms like body aches or chills.

In some cases, you might get medicine from your doctor. But more often you’ll just have to ride it out. As you do that, some good old-fashioned self-care can help you feel better.

How to Ease Your Symptoms

There are two types of bronchitis -- “acute” and “chronic.” Acute bronchitis is more common and usually goes away on its own within a few weeks. Chronic bronchitis keeps coming back or doesn’t go away at all.

With either type, the best approach is to avoid things that irritate your lungs:

  • If you smoke, the most important thing you can do is stop. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about what might work best for you.
  • Avoid dust, chemical fumes, smoke from other people, and anything else that can bother your lungs. If you can’t avoid these things, try wearing a mask.
  • Wear a mask if cold air triggers your cough or makes you short of breath.

Steam is also helpful, since it can loosen up all that mucus. You also might want to:

  • Breathe in steam from a bowl of hot water
  • Take a hot shower
  • Use a humidifier (Make sure to clean it as directed so bacteria and fungi don’t grow inside it.)

Relief for Acute Bronchitis

You can start with these basic steps:

Continued

For your cough: It’s best to stay away from cough medicine unless your cough keeps you awake at night. Your cough helps clear that gunk out of your lungs. When it comes to kids, avoid cough medicine for those under 4 years old and check with your doctor about giving it to older children.

Instead of cough medicine, you can:

  • Take throat lozenges that don’t have medicine in them. (Avoid these with young children as they could cause choking.)
  • Try a mixture of honey and lemon. (Don’t give honey to children under 1 year old.)

Relief for Chronic Bronchitis

In addition to quitting smoking, you can make some lifestyle changes, focus on your breathing, and do your best not to get colds or the flu. Some things to think about and do:

  • Diet: Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. You can also eat meats low in fat, chicken, fish, and low-fat or nonfat dairy.
  • Exercise: Along with a good diet, exercise will keep your weight in check. This is a big deal, because more weight makes it harder to breathe. Also, the muscles you use for breathing get stronger when you exercise. You can start with a slow, 15-minute walk three times a week, then do a little more at a time. Your doctor can help you come up with a plan that works for you.
  • Pursed-lip breathing: This can help slow down the fast breathing that sometimes comes with chronic bronchitis. First, take a deep breath in. Then, purse your lips like you’re about to kiss someone and breathe out slowly through your mouth.
  • Try to avoid colds and flu: Do your best to keep your distance from people who have a cold or the flu, and wash your hands often.

When Should I Call My Doctor?

Call your doctor if your cough:

  • Turns up mucus that’s yellow or green
  • Keeps you awake at night
  • Lasts more than 3 weeks
  • Produces blood

You’ll also want to call your doctor if you have a cough and:

  • A foul-tasting fluid in our mouth -- this could be reflux
  • Fever over 100.4 F
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath

If you have chronic bronchitis, your cough may go on for months. It’s best to check in with your doctor regularly.

You may also have times where your symptoms get worse. Also, it’s possible for you to get acute bronchitis and chronic bronchitis at the same time. You’ll want to see your doctor then, too.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by William Blahd, MD on December 01, 2016

Sources

SOURCES:

Mayo Clinic: “Bronchitis.”

FamilyDoctor.org: “Acute Bronchitis,” “Chronic Bronchitis.”

PubMed: “Bronchitis.”

CDC: “Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work.”

Harvard Health Publications, Harvard Medical School: “Acute Bronchitis.”

American Lung Association: “Diagnosing and Treating Acute Bronchitis.”

National Health Service (U.K.): “Bronchitis.”

National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: “Living with Chronic Bronchitis.”

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