Bronchitis

Chronic and Acute Bronchitis: Our Lung Experts Treat Both

While there are several types of bronchitis, the most common are divided into two categories: acute and chronic bronchitis.

With both, the airways, called bronchi, in the lungs become inflamed, triggering an increase in mucus and other changes. They also share symptoms such as back and muscle pain, a cough, chest soreness, fatigue and wheezing. But that's where the similarities end.

Acute bronchitis is generally brought on by a viral or bacterial infection. It usually lasts about two weeks, although the cough associated with acute bronchitis may last as long as eight weeks.

Throughout the University Hospitals system, pulmonary specialists work together with allergists, immunology specialists, primary care providers and others to help patients quickly overcome acute bronchitis. Acute bronchitis treatment recommendations are tailored to each person’s needs, and may include one or more of the following:

  • Cough medicine
  • Drinking more fluids
  • Humidifying the air at home
  • Pain relievers and fever reducers
  • Rest
  • Quitting smoking
  • Staying away from secondhand smoke

Once the acute bronchitis symptoms subside, patients typically feel well again and regain their stamina. However, if acute bronchitis progresses to chronic bronchitis, our pulmonary specialists approach the treatment plan differently.

Specialized Care for Chronic Bronchitis

Chronic bronchitis occurs when the airways in the lungs stay inflamed. This long-term inflammation causes an overproduction of mucus, along with chronic coughing and wheezing. Usually, chronic bronchitis is caused by smoking or poor air quality.

Lung experts consider chronic bronchitis a sub-category of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. To effectively manage it, University Hospitals pulmonary specialists take a collaborative team approach to care. Pulmonologists work with cardiologists, psychologists, orthopedists and other medical specialists to coordinate chronic bronchitis treatment that considers every aspect of your health.

Our specialists offer a range of therapies to help manage chronic bronchitis symptoms that include oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation and surgery, if necessary. For example, lung volume reduction surgery may improve breathing function by removing the diseased tissue. Learn more about chronic bronchitis, COPD and the specialized treatments available at University Hospitals. Find a pulmonary specialist, at a range of convenient locations.

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