What Are The Symptoms Of Bronchitis
Acute bronchitis can occur in people of any age, although its not common in infants. Acute bronchitis usually lasts from 10 to 14 days, but some symptoms may last longer. For example, you may have a lingering cough that lasts for a month or sometimes longer. This is true for both children and adults.
Older adults may experience more severe symptoms over a longer duration of time. These symptoms can include rapid breathing and confused thinking. Elderly individuals may also be at a higher risk for complications, such as pneumonia.
Chronic bronchitis is more common in adults than in children. People with chronic bronchitis can also experience bouts of acute bronchitis.
Symptoms of chronic bronchitis include long-term irritation and inflammation of the bronchial tubes, and a chronic, phlegmy cough that lasts for at least three months. This is followed by episodic bouts of bronchitis, which can come and go for two years or longer.
Antibiotics For Cough From Other Causes
While its not likely that youll be prescribed antibiotics for bronchitis, it is possible that youll need antibiotics for an incessant cough caused by another bacteria.
An infection called whooping cough is caused by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis and can cause a lingering cough. Luckily, its prevented in most cases by the pertussis vaccine, which has reduced whooping cough infections drastically.
If you havent been vaccinated against whooping cough , its possible a cough could be caused by the pertussis bacteria.
The symptoms of pertussis are very similar to those of bronchitis. They include initial cold-like symptoms, including:
- A sniffly, runny nose
- A mild, occasional cough
- Unusual pauses in breathing
In pertussis, especially in those who havent been vaccinated, these symptoms worsen and develop into unusual coughing fits with an accompanying high-pitched whoop sound. This usually happens one to two weeks after the initial infection.
These coughing fits can cause exhaustion and vomiting, and can last a long timeup to 10 weeks or more.
Pertussis infections are treated with antibiotics, and early treatment is essential to ease symptoms and prevent the spread of the disease.
Also, try to stay away from others, especially those too young to be vaccinated. Whooping cough is extremely dangerous to infants.
Antibiotics commonly prescribed to treat pertussis include:
Antibiotics Are Not Always Needed
Most of the time, antibiotics are not indicated for use in treating the common cold or flu. A Cochrane report analyzing the available research into the use of antibiotics to treat colds, published in 2013, found that antibiotics do not work for the common cold, and side effects of antibiotics used for the common cold are common.
White, yellow, or even green snot during your cold doesnt necessarily mean its a bacterial infection, so it isnt a reason to ask for antibiotics.
Overuse and overprescription of antibiotics when they arent effective leads to the development of antibiotic-resistant infections. Not only is this a big problem for the entire world, but antibiotics can have nasty side effects for the person taking them.
If you go to the healthcare provider with a cold, theyll generally treat your symptoms, including suggesting you:
- Hydrate with water or electrolyte sports drinks
- Rest and let your body heal
- Suck on lozenges, hard candies, or ice pops to soothe a sore throat
- Try antihistamines or decongestants for symptom relief
- Use saline nose drops or sprays or a neti potstyle sinus rinse to help clear congestion
- Take pain relievers and fever reducers, including Tylenol and Advil , to address those symptoms
Recommended Reading: Uti Came Back After Antibiotics
Do You Need To Take Antibiotics To Treat Bronchitis
Acute Bronchitis, also called the chest cold, happens when airways in the lungs become swollen and begin producing mucus. The bronchi are the airways responsible for carrying air in and out of the lungs. When a virus irritates the bronchi, they produce mucus to flush out the germs, which causes coughing. A persistent cough is the main symptom of bronchitis but it often comes with chest soreness, fatigue, fever, and congestion.
Bronchitis can be either viral or bacterial. Most cases are viral and cannot be treated with antibiotics. If you canât cure it, how do you treat bronchitis? Recovery requires taking time to rest and care for yourself, as symptoms can last days or weeks. With viral cases, bronchitis treatment is more about treating the symptoms so you can rest and let your body heal.
You May Need An Antibiotic If You Have One Of The Infections Listed Below
You have a sinus infection that doesnt get better in 10 days. Or it gets better and then suddenly gets worse.
You have a fever of 102° F accompanied by facial pain for 3 or more days in a row, possibly with discolored, thick mucus.
You have bacterial pneumonia.
- Symptoms can include cough with colored mucus, fever of at least 100.6° F, chills, shortness of breath, and chest pain when you take a deep breath.
- The diagnosis is made with a physical exam and a chest x-ray.
You have whooping cough .
- The main symptoms are fits of severe, rapid coughing. They may end with a whoop sound.
- The diagnosis should be checked with a swab of the throat.
- Your family may need antibiotics also.
You have strep throat.
- Symptoms include sudden throat pain, pain when swallowing, a fever of at least 100.6 F, and swollen glands.
- The diagnosis should be done with a rapid strep test, which uses a swab of the throat.
If your doctor does prescribe antibiotics, follow the directions carefully and take all your pills. This helps prevent the growth of superbugs.
This report is for you to use when talking with your health-care provider. It is not a substitute for medical advice and treatment. Use of this report is at your own risk.
Don’t Miss: Why Should We Care About Antibiotic Resistance
When Should You Start Worrying About That Lingering Cough Give It Time
You probably dont need reminding that cold and flu season is upon us. If, like me, youve already had your first bout of one of these nasty bugs, you may be wondering: When will my symptoms go away? Even as my sore throat and stuffy nose have cleared up, my cough has lingered into a second week. It has disrupted my sleep and kept me away from social events.
Two-plus weeks of coughing is quite common in most cases of viral respiratory infections such as mine, says Matthew Mintz, an internist with George Washington Medical Faculty Associates. The average duration of cough, according to a recent study, is 18 days.
If you think that seems like a long time, youre not alone. A telephone survey by the same researchers found most people expected a cough to last seven to nine days.
That dissonance between how long people expect cough to last and how long it really does sends a lot of people to the doctor. Cough is the most common patient complaint to primary-care physicians and accounts for more than 30 million doctors visits annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Many people come seeking antibiotics. But if your cough began, as mine did, with a cold and is dry and accompanied by fatigue and muscle aches, then it is most likely related to that cold virus, and antibiotics wont help clear it up, says Christian Merlo, a Johns Hopkins pulmonologist.
For me, time was the cure. By the time I finished this article, my cough was gone.
When Does Your Child Need Antibiotics
Some parents think that every time their child has a sore throat, cough or runny nose, their child needs antibiotics.
If your child has a bacterial infection, antibiotics may help. But if your child has a virus, antibiotics will not help your child feel better or keep others from getting sick. A lot of parents think that having yellow or green mucus is a sign of a bacterial infection thats not true.
Antibiotics fight bacteria not viruses
- Most colds and flus are viruses.
- Chest colds, such as bronchitis, are also usually caused by viruses. Bronchitis is a cough with a lot of thick, sticky phlegm or mucus.
- Most sinus infections are from viruses with a lot of mucus in the nose and post-nasal drip.
- Many common ear infections clear up on their own without antibiotics.
- Most children with sore throats do not have strep throat. Your child should have a strep test and the doctor will prescribe antibiotics if needed. Strep throat is a bacterial infection.
Antibiotics can cause diarrhea or vomiting. About five percent of children are allergic to antibiotics.
Overusing antibiotics also encourages the growth of stronger bacteria that does not respond to antibiotics. So the next time your child has a bacterial infection, the antibiotics will not work as well. The stronger bacteria can spread from your child to other family members and friends, causing infections that are more difficult to cure and more costly to treat.
Don’t Miss: Can I Buy Cat Antibiotics Over The Counter
Antibiotic No Better For Coughs Uncomplicated Chest Infections Than No Medication
Amoxicillin, the antibiotic doctors often prescribe for persistent coughs caused by uncomplicated chest infections such as bronchitis, is no more effective at easing symptoms than no medication at all, even in older patients. This was the finding of the largest randomised placebo controlled trial of antibiotics for lower respiratory tract infections done to date.
The study, which was led by the University of Southampton in the UK, is from the GRACE consortium and was funded by the European Communitys Sixth Framework Programme.
A paper on the findings appears in the 19 December online issue of The Lancet Infectious Diseases.
First author Paul Little, Professor of Primary Care Research at Southampton, says in a statement:
Patients given amoxicillin dont recover much quicker or have significantly fewer symptoms.
In fact, he adds, using amoxicillin to treat patients with respiratory infections who dont have pneumonia could not only be ineffective, but might actually harm them.
Overuse of antibiotics, which is dominated by primary care prescribing, particularly when they are ineffective, can lead to side effects such as diarrhea, rash, vomiting and the development of resistance, he explains.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control recently put out a statement saying that antibiotic resistance remains a major threat to public health around the world, and for the large part, the cause is misuse of antibiotics.
When Antibiotics Are Appropriate
There are only a few situations in which your healthcare provider might prescribe antibiotics when youre dealing with a cold or flu. Usually, these are secondary bacterial infections caused by the cold or flu symptoms that cause issues in the sinuses or other structures of the upper respiratory system.
Antibiotics may be helpful if common cold symptoms last for more than 10 days, the Cochrane report found.
Recommended Reading: How Much Does Strep Throat Antibiotics Cost
Which Illnesses Need Antibiotics
In-room misters and over-the-counter remedies against pain, fever, cough and congestion can help relieve symptoms and allow your child to get a good nights sleep.
Are antibiotics ever the right solution to common childhood ailments? Of course. Its still important to see your doctor when your child is sick for longer than a few days, especially if symptoms are serious or worsening. Here is what your doctor considers when it comes to prescribing antibiotics:
Antibiotic Therapy Vs Watchful Waiting
The AAFP/AAP guideline introduces the option of watchful waiting in select patients with uncomplicated acute otitis media. The decision is based on the patientâs age, illness severity, and the certainty of the diagnosis. Severe illness is defined as moderate to severe otalgia or temperature greater than 102Â°F in the past 24 hours, whereas nonsevere illness is defined as mild otalgia and temperature less than 102Â° F.
A period of watchful waiting with close clinical follow-up is an option for children six months to two years of age with nonsevere symptoms and an uncertain diagnosis. It is also an option for older children with nonsevere symptoms, regardless of the certainty of diagnosis. For all other children, antibiotics are recommended.
If an antibiotic is prescribed, first-line therapy for patients with nonsevere illness is high-dosage amoxicillin . Patients with nonsevere illness in whom amoxicillin therapy has failed should switch to high-dosage amoxicillin/clavulanate . For patients with symptoms of severe infection, first-line therapy is high-dosage amoxicillin/clavulanate . Alternative therapies for patients allergic to penicillin are shown in Table 1.5
Recommended Reading: Can You Buy Antibiotic Ear Drops Over The Counter
Antibiotics Not Helpful For Persistent Cough
In most cases, no. Recently, researchers reporting in the British journal The Lancet looked at over 2,000 patients of various ages with a cough lasting no more than 28 days, and randomized them to receive either placebo or a 7-day course of amoxicillin. Patients with suspected pneumonia or any of the noninfectious causes listed above were excluded from the study. The researchers found that amoxicillin did not shorten the duration of the cough, nor did it mitigate the severity of symptoms in persons of any age group, including the elderly.
Why? The answer is simple: Almost all cases of acute bronchitis are caused by a virus, and viruses dont respond to antibiotics, most of which are antibacterial agents. So, in the vast majority of cases where a cough is the predominant symptom, an antibiotic wont help.
How Do Doctors Diagnose Acute Bronchitis
For most patients with acute bronchitis, a diagnosis is based on your medical history and a physical examination. Further testing is usually not needed, but a chest X-ray may be done if you have an abnormally fast heart rate or breathing rate, if you have a fever, or if you are over 75 years of age and show mental or behavioral changes. A chest X-ray is mainly used to rule out pneumonia.
Recommended Reading: Can You Take Multivitamins With Antibiotics
People Should Take Honey Or Cough Medicines Instead But Speak To Their Gp If It Persists For Longer Than Three Weeks
23 August 2018
Honey and over-the-counter remedies should be a patients first point of call to treat a cough, not antibiotics, says NICE and PHE in new draft guidance.
In most cases, acute coughs are caused by a cold or flu virus, or bronchitis, and last around three weeks.
Clinicians are advised in most cases not to offer antibiotics as they make little difference to a persons symptoms.
Dr Tessa Lewis, GP and chair of the NICE antimicrobial prescribing guideline group said: “If someone has a runny nose, sore throat and cough we would expect the cough to settle over 2 -3 weeks and antibiotics are not needed.
People can check their symptoms on NHS choices or NHS Direct Wales or ask their pharmacist for advice.
If the cough is getting worse rather than better or the person feels very unwell or breathless then they would need to contact their GP.”
There are self-care products that people can take to manage their symptoms themselves.
Honey and cough medicines containing pelargonium, guaifenesin or dextromethorphan have some evidence of benefit for the relief of cough symptoms.
Honey should not be given to infants under 12 months because of the risk of botulism.
The NICE draft guidance states it is important the reasons for not giving an antibiotic are clearly explained by the healthcare professional and advice is given to the patient on appropriate self-care.
The consultation for this acute cough guideline closes on the 20th September 2018.
Theres A Serious Rash Growing
One of the most feared infections in children is meningitis. There are all these horror stories of otherwise healthy children suddenly coming down with the bacterial infections and being unable to fight off the infection. Their immune systems struggle.
A rash is one of the first signs of the bacterial infection. Before you worry about every rash, this is one of those that doesnt disappear with the tumbler test . After all, rashes can also be signs of viral infections, irritations, and allergic reactions.
Its still important to keep an eye on the rash. If it gets bigger, grows redder and also sees some discharge, theres a sign that its more serious than viral infections. You should also watch out for inflammation and other signs of illnesses. A bacterial rash will usually be linked to high fevers, floppiness, and extreme fatigue, especially in children.
Your doctor will likely refer you to the hospital if there is a fear of a serious bacterial infection from the rash. This isnt something thats taken lightly. At the hospital, tests can be carried out to make sure its bacterial, the type of bacteria and the best type of treatment.
Also Check: Antibiotic Gel For Gum Disease
When To Seek Medical Care
See a doctor if you have:
- Difficulty breathing or fast breathing
- Fever that lasts longer than 4 days
- Symptoms that last more than 10 days without improvement
- Symptoms, such as fever or cough, that improve but then return or worsen
- Worsening of chronic medical conditions
This list is not all-inclusive. Please see a doctor for any symptom that is severe or concerning.
Because colds can have similar symptoms to flu, it can be difficult to tell the difference between the two illnesses based on symptoms alone. Flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses.
In general, flu is worse than a cold, and symptoms are more intense. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations. Flu can have very serious associated complications.
When you have a cold, mucus fills your nose and could cause post-nasal drip, headache, and a sore throat.
How Your Healthcare Provider Chooses
Your healthcare provider will only prescribe antibiotics for bronchitis if they think bacteria are causing your symptoms and youre at high risk of the infection not resolving on its own.
If a virus causes your bronchitis, they wont give you antibiotics because the antibiotics wouldnt do anything. If youre young and generally healthy, they probably wont prescribe anything either.
A Cochrane report last updated in 2017 found little evidence that antibiotics help acute bronchitis in healthy people, but recommended further study for patients that are elderly, frail, or have other conditions that may make bronchitis worse.
When considering treatment, your healthcare provider will look at:
- If youve had an allergic reaction to an antibiotic in the past
- Other health conditions, like autoimmune diseases, heart conditions, and lung conditions like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Your history with smoking or vaping
- The oxygen levels in your blood
If your practitioner decides to prescribe an antibiotic, the treatment they choose will be based on your medical history, personal details, symptoms, diagnosis, and test results.
Read Also: Do You Need A Prescription For Antibiotics