Had a cough that's lasted a while? It could start out as a cold or the flu, and end up as another illness: bronchitis.
Dr. Addison Ward, a family medicine physician with Wellmont Medical Associates in Norton, Virginia says cases of bronchitis are popping up.
Dr. Ward says..
"We are seeing numerous patients with bronchitis. Acute bronchitis is inflammation of the bronchi (the air passages of the lungs) caused from an upper airway infection, and it is very common. It is usually caused by a virus, often the same viruses that cause the flu or the common cold. The symptoms include a cough that lasts more than five days and can last up to three weeks. Sometimes the cough is productive of sputum. Other symptoms patients might experience can include mild wheezing and chest wall tenderness from coughing.
Treatment of acute bronchitis is symptomatic, and because it is most often caused by a virus, it usually does not require antibiotics. However, patients with underlying lung disease or other comorbid conditions might require antibiotic therapy. Treatment at home can include over-the-counter cough medications, Tylenol or ibuprofen. Medications containing Guaifenesin can help bring up the sputum, but it is important to drink plenty of water for it to work properly. Patients should see their primary care provider if they experience any symptoms such as fever, shortness of breath or rapid heart rate, as these may be signs of a more severe illness, such as pneumonia."