One of the most common acute illnesses, bronchitis is an inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, which transport air to and from the lungs. Bronchitis can also be chronic, recurring in individuals who smoke or have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Typically improving in a matter of days without any long-term damage, bronchitis develops from a cold or another sort of respiratory infection. You can heal from bronchitis on your own, or with the help of a doctor, though if it happens on a regular basis, you may have chronic bronchitis and need further medical help.
Bronchitis is characterized by cough, fatigue, slight fever and chills, discomfort in the chest, and the presence of mucus (any color, from clear to green). It is caused by the same viruses that produce colds and influenza, though exposure to air pollution, dust and toxic chemicals can also cause bronchitis. Acute sufferers usually have a cough that continues for a few weeks post-bronchitis, though it is nothing to worry about. You should consult your doctor if your cough lasts for more than three weeks, prevents you from sleeping, also includes a fever over 100.4℉ (38℃), produces discolored mucus or blood, or is accompanied by wheezing or shortness of breath.
Though it is difficult to avoid cold and flu viruses, you can wash your hands, eat foods rich in vitamin C to increase your immunity, clean surfaces, and keep a safe distance from those who are infected. To prevent chronic bronchitis, it is definitely advisable to stop smoking, as it is the most common cause of recurring episodes, and wear protective masks if you work in an environment where you are exposed to irritants or chemical gases.
There are many ways to treat bronchitis at home. From drinking fluids to resting, there are plenty of simple, affordable methods for recovering from a bad, mucus-ridden cough. While you can treat your cough naturally, of course, there are also various over-the-counter medications that your doctor may recommend, such as a cough medicine with expectorant. Hard candies and cough drops can also help soothe your throat, although they do not actually help you cough less. Antibiotics are usually unnecessary, as bronchitis is the result of a viral, not bacterial, infection.
How Health Insurance Can Help
Firstly, you can go online and diagnose yourself, but a doctor’s word is best before you start any kind of treatment. To be safe, having coverage to get you in and out of an office visit for less than $50 is always a nice perk. If you do smoke, or your cough lasts longer than a few weeks, seeing a doctor and running tests is essential. When your cough is developing into something serious, you may need an inhaler to loosen up deeply suppressed phlegm, or may have another problem to look at. Whenever you need an expert opinion, your health insurance is a much safer, less expensive option than visiting a retail clinic or any other provider uninsured. Some plans include diagnostic testing for a copay, as well as office visits, which can help those with persisting bronchial irritation.
1. Mayo Clinic. Bronchitis.