Acute bronchitis is characterized by the presence of annoying cough with or without phlegm. It tends to be self-limited with a duration that can be from 1 to 3 weeks, and by definition it is not accompanied by pre-existing chronic lung diseases, such as COPD.
What causes acute bronchitis?
Mostly, acute bronchitis is caused by viruses, among the most common are rhinoviruses, coronaviruses, influenza and respiratory syncytial viruses. Acute bronchitis that are caused by bacteria are more rare (less than 10% of all acute bronchitis) and the most common bacteria involved are Bordetella pertussis, Mycoplasma pneumoniae and Chlamydia pneumoniae.
How is acute bronchitis diagnosed?
The diagnosis is clinical, based on the patient’s history of a previous viral disease of the upper respiratory tract and the symptoms where cough is the most present and annoying symptoms that the patient refers. Laboratory or imaging tests are usually not required for diagnosis, the only scenario where chest radiography is indicated is when pneumonia is suspected (Pulse greater than 100 beats per minute, breaths over 24 per minute, major fever 38 degrees, oxygen saturation below 95%, changes in mental status in patients older than 75 years and signs of pulmonary consolidation).
How is acute bronchitis treated?
An essential part of the treatment is the patient’s education about his illness and symptomatic treatment, with emphasis on the null utility of antibiotics.
The first line of treatment is the non-pharmacological where we can use refreshing pills for the throat, tees and avoid irritating the respiratory tract (cigarette smoke and cold air)
Pharmacological treatment is aimed at helping with symptoms such as cough, for which the use of dextromethorphan or guaifenesin usually give acceptable results, but not totally effective. Inhaled medications are usually reserved for patients who have pulmonary wheezing and some existing lung condition (for example, asthma), in these cases salbutamol is usually helpful.
Remember that in the winter seasons it is when we can find this type of disease and we must avoid contagion to reduce the incidence of these, always keep your hands clean and not frequent closed and busy places.