How is bronchitis treated?

Acute bronchitis is treated much like a cold. Get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids. Antibiotics are usually not prescribed because most cases of acute bronchitis are caused by a cold virus. However, if your doctor thinks an infection is present, he may prescribe an antibiotic. If the cough is keeping you from sleeping, you may use a cough suppressant at night.

A person with chronic bronchitis must avoid things that can irritate or infect the nose, throat, mouth, sinuses, and bronchial tubes. Dust, polluted air, and cigarette smoke are the worst offenders. Patients with chronic bronchitis or COPD should get vaccinated to avoid catching pneumonia or influenza.

Medical treatment for chronic bronchitis is aimed at reducing irritation of the bronchial tubes. To manage symptoms, the doctor may prescribe a medicine called a bronchodilator (something that helps the airways relax and open up). The drug can be inhaled (breathed in) or taken as a pill. Additional treatment may include the use of antibiotic drugs.

To reduce and control symptoms of chronic bronchitis, a person should live a healthy lifestyle by eating well, by exercising, and by not smoking. It is important to eat a healthy diet so the body can fight off infections. It is also important to exercise sensibly. If you have bronchitis, consult your doctor before starting an exercise program, and learn how to avoid overdoing it. There are special exercises you can do to improve your breathing and positions you can learn to sit in that will help you to manage sudden periods of short breath.

Above all, do not smoke and avoid dust or fumes.

To learn more:

Acute Bronchitis: How is Acute Bronchitis Treated?
The American Academy of Physicians tells you how bronchitis is treated. Scroll down to "Acute Bronchitis Treatment".
Bronchitis: Treatment
The Mayo Clinic describes the usual treatment for bronchitis.
Chronic Bronchitis
The American Academy of Physicians describes chronic bronchitis, how it is treated, and how to reduce symptoms.

Clinical Trials:

Clinical trials allow scientists and doctors to test new ways to treat illnesses. Also, patients who feel the established treatments aren't working can try something new and for less cost. The following links may help you decide if you want to participate in a clinical trial.
Learn About Clinical Studies
(National Library of Medicine)
Explains clinical trials in a question and answer format. Presents lots of information that patients and their families will want to know if they are thinking about enrolling in a clinical trial. A list of questions to ask your doctor or the people doing the study is very helpful.
Bronchitis, Chronic
The National Institutes of Health provides information about what clinical trials are and how they are used to help patients and to find better treatments. If you want to consider being in a clinical trial, this is a good site to visit with your doctor or health care professional to find out if trials are available.
Clinical Trials: Chronic Bronchitis
This clinical trials listing service shows you where IRB (Institutional Review Board) approved clinical trials are being conducted. Scroll down to South Carolina. Trials being conducted will be listed. If it states the study is still enrolling, click on the study listed to learn more.

next » How can I avoid chronic bronchitis?

Written by: Lillian Trettin, Ph.D.
Reviewed by: Jeffrey G. Schultze, M.D.
Last Modified: Thursday October 31, 2019 10:18 AM