How Long Does Acute Bronchitis Last & How To Manage It? 

Monali Sharma
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Dr. Kaushal

Review medical content on WOW Rx Pharmacy, so that accurate drug use information is easily accessible to everybody.
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When will my acute bronchitis go way

Acute Bronchitis is a brief inflammation of the bronchial airways. It is usually caused by a viral infection, but bacteria can cause it in less than 10% of cases. This condition leads to symptoms like coughing, chest tightness, and sometimes mild fever. 

If you’re battling a cough and wondering when you’ll finally feel normal again, this article is for you. We’ll break down everything you need to know about the condition, including how long Acute Bronchitis lasts and what you can do to feel better faster. 

Understanding its duration, recognizing its symptoms, and following simple recovery tips can help you manage it effectively and get back to feeling healthy.

How long does Acute Bronchitis last?

Acute Bronchitis typically lasts 7 to 10 days, with symptoms typically resolving on their own. For older adults, it might take 16-17 days on average.

However, certain symptoms may take longer to resolve. The cough associated with Acute Bronchitis typically lasts 10 to 20 days, with a median duration of 18 days. In some cases, it can persist for up to 8 weeks even if the infection clears up. This happens because the bronchial linings remain irritated and may become narrow, like in Asthma.

Fact
Acute Bronchitis is among the top 10 most common outpatient illnesses in the United States, affecting over 5% of individuals annually.

Factors affecting duration of Acute Bronchitis

A woman coughing
A woman coughing

Several factors can influence the duration of Acute Bronchitis:

  • Cause: Acute Bronchitis is usually caused by viral infections, which typically resolve within 14 days (2 weeks). Bacterial infections are less common but may prolong symptoms
  • Age: Older adults aged 65 and above might take longer to recover compared to younger individuals
  • Underlying conditions: Those with underlying cardiopulmonary conditions tend to have longer illness durations. For example, Asthma can increase the risk of complications
  • Smoking and exposure to irritants: Breathing in cigarette smoke and exposure to other irritants like dust or chemical fumes can increase the risk of Acute Bronchitis and potentially prolong symptoms
  • Antibiotic treatment: Antibiotics provide a small reduction in the duration of cough and illness in bacterial Bronchitis and can make a person less contagious after 48 hours 

When to see a doctor

When experiencing symptoms of Acute Bronchitis, you should see a doctor if:

  • Cough brings up mucus that thickens or darkens in color
  • Your cough lasts more than 3 weeks
  • You have a bad-tasting fluid in your mouth after coughing 
  • Your cough produces blood, you feel weak, have an ongoing high fever, and are short of breath, as these symptoms may indicate Pneumonia

Acute Bronchitis can be contagious. If symptoms worsen or do not improve after a few weeks, it is advisable to see a doctor to receive appropriate evaluation and treatment.

Warning
Do not leave Acute Bronchitis untreated. If not managed early and effectively, it can lead to Pneumonia. 

Tips to manage Acute Bronchitis

These medical treatments and home remedies can help provide relief and fasten the recovery process.

Medical treatment

Here are the ways to manage Acute Bronchitis through medical treatment:

  • Antipyretic and Analgesic medications: These can help reduce body temperature and ease chest discomfort and body aches associated with Acute Bronchitis. Common medications include Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen (Brufen 400mg)
  • Cough syrups: While they may or may not work for everyone, some cough syrups can help manage cough symptoms
  • Decongestants: These can help with cold symptoms
  • Bronchodilators: Inhalers that open the airways can aid in breathing
  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics like Augmentin 375 can help in case of a bacterial Acute Bronchitis

Home remedies

Here are some changes you can make to find relief with or without medications:

  • Fluids and hydration: Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, to help thin mucus and make it easier to cough up
  • Rest: Give your body time to rest and recover, as this helps your immune system fight the infection
  • Humidify your environment: Adding moisture to the air with a humidifier can help break up mucus and soothe irritation. Inhaling steam from a hot shower or leaning over a bowl of hot water can also help break up mucus
  • Avoid irritants: Quit smoking and avoid second-hand smoke, as it can worsen symptoms and slow healing. Steer clear of strong odors, chemicals, and air pollution that can irritate the airways
  • Try natural remedies: Honey, ginger, thyme, oregano, eucalyptus, garlic, and turmeric may help manage symptoms and provide relief due to their individual antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and immune-supporting properties

Conclusion

Acute Bronchitis typically lasts 7 to 10 days, and the cough associated with it can persist for 10 to 20 days. Factors like the cause (viral or bacterial), age, underlying conditions like Asthma, smoking, exposure to irritants, vaccination status, and antibiotic treatment can influence its duration. 

See a doctor if the cough brings up thick or dark mucus, lasts more than 3 weeks, or if you experience other concerning symptoms like blood in the mucus, weakness, high fever, or shortness of breath. They may prescribe medical treatments like antipyretic medications, cough syrups, decongestants, bronchodilators, and antibiotics like Augmentin if necessary. 

You can also consider home remedies to manage the symptoms better, such as staying hydrated, resting, humidifying the environment, avoiding irritants, and trying natural remedies like honey and ginger. If you have any further questions about Acute Bronchitis, it’s important to consult with a medical professional.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the stages of Bronchitis?

Bronchitis typically progresses through acute and chronic stages. Acute Bronchitis is short-term, often following a viral infection, while chronic Bronchitis is persistent and linked to factors like smoking. Symptoms include cough, mucus production, fatigue, and chest discomfort.

Can Bronchitis kill you?

Bronchitis is normally not life-threatening, but Chronic Bronchitis, especially when combined with COPD, can cause major complications, even death, by worsening with time if not treated. Prompt treatment and management can help prevent severe outcomes.

How long is Acute Bronchitis contagious?

Acute Bronchitis is contagious for a few days up to a week, depending on the virus causing it. It typically spreads through respiratory droplets and contact with infected surfaces. Simple precautions like washing your hands often and avoiding close contact with ill people can stop it.

How long does it take for Bronchitis to go away with antibiotics?

Antibiotics can slightly reduce the duration of cough and sputum production in Acute Bronchitis by about half a day. However, their effectiveness is uncertain, and routine use is not recommended due to side effects and antibiotic resistance.

Citations:
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