When to See a Pulmonologist for Bronchitis: Signs, Symptoms, and Expert Care

Bronchitis is a common infectious condition that affects the lungs’ airways, causes inflammation, and fills them with mucus. While in most cases, bronchitis is acute and gets better on its own after a few weeks. But if your symptoms last longer than 3 weeks and get worse, then you need to see a pulmonologist. Learn about bronchitis signs and symptoms when you need to see a pulmonologist for treatment in this article. Contact the best pulmonologist in Brooklyn by visiting Doral Health and Wellness Pulmonary Center.

 

Causes

There are two types of bronchitis (acute and chronic) caused by viral or bacterial infections. However, other irritants such as smoke, dust, fumes, or anything that irritates your airways can also cause it. The main causes of bronchitis include:

  • Viruses: The most common cause of bronchitis are viruses that cause the common cold or flu. It includes influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), rhinovirus (common cold), and coronavirus.
  • Bacteria: Some bacteria also cause bronchitis including Bordetella pertussis, Mycoplasma pneumonia, and Chlamydia pneumonia.
  • Common irritants: Smoking is the most common cause of chronic Bronchitis. Irritants like pollution, dust, fumes, secondhand smoke, etc. also cause bronchitis.

 

Signs and symptoms

As bronchitis is usually caused by colds and flu viruses, you mostly experience early symptoms like a sore throat or runny nose. As this infection affects your nose and throat and transmits to your lungs, it causes swelling and inflammation in your bronchial tubes that causes coughing and often produces mucus, which is a yellowish-gray or green color fluid in your nose or throat.

 

Other common symptoms include:

  • Coughing
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Fatigue
  • Chills
  • Chest tightness or discomfort.
  • Body aches
  • Headaches
  • Low-grade fever
  • Production of sputum

 

While these symptoms get better with home remedies and rest, you may need to see your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms, including:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • A persistent cough that troubles you from sleep.
  • Symptoms last longer than 3 weeks.
  • Blood in your mucus.
  • The mucus has an unpleasant smell.

In case you also have a chronic illness, like heart or lung disease, and think you may have bronchitis, consider seeing a doctor to lower the risk of complications from bronchitis.

 

Diagnosis

For diagnosis, the doctor usually first conducts a physical exam to examine your symptoms and check your medical history. During the physical exam, the doctor may ask you questions like “did you get a cold recently?” or “How long you’ve been coughing?” Your doctor may use a stethoscope to listen to how your lungs sound when your lungs breathe.

 

If your doctor suspects you may have another condition such as pneumonia or asthma or want to ensure your condition, your doctor may other tests like:

  • Chest X-ray: The doctor uses this test to examine your bronchial tubes and lungs to check for abnormalities and look for pneumonia.
  • Blood test: A blood test helps to find the signs of infection.
  • Sputum test: In this test, the doctor takes a sample of sputum to check what type of infection you have.
  • Pulmonary function test: Doctors use a device to measure how much air your lungs can hold and how fast it can move air in or out from your lungs to check signs of asthma or emphysema.

 

Treatment and care

Usually, treatment can vary according to the type of bronchitis. For acute bronchitis, it gets better on its own over a few weeks. To manage acute bronchitis symptoms, you can follow the home remedies, including:

  • Get plenty of rest and drink plenty of water, which helps you loosen chest congestion.
  • Use a humidifier or steam to reduce mucus and cough or sneeze it out through the mouth or nose.
  • You can use over-the-counter medications to manage your symptoms like cough, pain, etc.
  • Avoid areas or places where you get exposed to irritants such as car pollution, factory pollution, paint, or household cleaners with strong fumes. To protect yourself you can wear a mask.
  • Quit smoking, if you do.

 

Doctors don’t prescribe antibiotics for treating viral infections but if the doctor suspects a bacterial infection, they may prescribe one.

 

In case you develop chronic bronchitis, the doctor may prescribe medication to treat your symptoms or underlying cause, which include:

  • Antiviral medications: These medications are prescribed when your bronchitis is caused by a viral infection like the flu. The doctor may prescribe medication like Tamiflu, Relenza, and Rapivab. You can start your antiviral medication as quickly as you notice your symptoms to get better sooner.
  • Bronchodilators: It’s a drug that helps you open your airways if you’re having trouble breathing.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications: If you have inflammation, the doctor may prescribe you corticosteroids and other medication to lower it.
  • Cough suppressants: Over the counter or prescription cough suppressants are given to reduce your cough.
  • Antibiotics: This is only prescribed if you have a bacterial infection, which is usually rare.
  • COPD/asthma treatment: If you have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) or asthma, then your doctor may recommend additional medications or breathing treatments for chronic bronchitis.

 

Bronchitis is a common viral condition that gets better over time. However, if your symptoms don’t get better after 3 weeks, then you should consider medical treatment. Treatment includes medications and home remedies to improve your symptoms and prevent further complications.

 

If you have chronic bronchitis, visit our pulmonologists to get professional medical treatment. Our doctors guide you on how you can manage the condition at home and prevent it in the future. At Doral Health and Wellness Pulmonary Center, we offer the best possible expertise and care in all aspects of pulmonology. Visit our pulmonologists to have your signs and symptoms checked. To schedule an appointment, you can visit us at 1797 Pitkin Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11212, or call us at 1-347-384-5690. You can also visit our website at https://pulmonologistbrooklyn.com.