Tell if You Have Bronchitis

Edited by Train Wreck, VisiHow, Eng

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Bronchitis is a common illness, in which your bronchial tubes become inflamed. There are two types of bronchitis: acute and chronic. While acute or viral bronchitis is often a result of a cold or respiratory infection, chronic bronchitis, or constant inflammation, is typically caused by smoking. It can be difficult to distinguish bronchitis from a cold or flu, since symptoms are often quite similar. For this reason, we do recommend making an appointment with your doctor.

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In this article we will discuss some of the symptoms you should look for that may indicate you have bronchitis, what you should tell your doctor during your visit, and some tips to protect yourself from this uncomfortable illness. Do note that this is a reference article, and we are not doctors. The tips and suggestions provided here are in no way intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. It is why we recommend you seek the help of a doctor.

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Possible Symptoms of Bronchitis

Symptoms of bronchitis are fairly general and may mirror those of the common cold or a flu. You may have a lingering, productive cough, fatigue and/or shortness of breath, a mild fever with chills, or discomfort in your chest. With acute bronchitis, your cough may linger for a few weeks. If you have chronic bronchitis, however, you may have recurring illness with a three-month long productive cough, and you will have experienced these symptoms for at least two years. If your cough is unresolved after three weeks, keeps you awake at night, is accompanied by a high fever, produces discolored or bloody mucus, or is coupled with wheezing, you should make an appointment with your doctor for a medical evaluation.

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What to Tell Your Doctor

If you have made an appointment with your doctor, you may be wondering what you should tell him or her. Your doctor may be able to diagnose bronchitis based on your symptoms and a quick physical examination, but he or she may also order some tests. You should be prepared to tell your doctor:

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  1. 1
    How long you have been experiencing symptoms and what your symptoms are;
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  2. 2
    If your symptoms are constant or if they are worse at certain times;
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  3. 3
    If your symptoms disrupt your sleep or daily life;
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  4. 4
    If you smoke or are exposed to second-hand smoke;
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  5. 5
    If you are regularly exposed to irritants such as pollution or potentially toxic fumes at your home or work;
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  6. 6
    Your medical history, including if you take any medication or have recently been ill with a cold or flu.
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If your doctor is unable to make a diagnosis from your symptoms, or thinks it is best to confirm that you do not have a more serious condition, such as pneumonia, he or she may order a test. Testing for bronchitis is non-invasive and may include a chest x-ray, a sputum test to analyze any mucus you are coughing up, or a pulmonary function test. In a pulmonary test, you will be asked to blow into a device in order to check for signs of asthma or emphysema.

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Steps you can Take to Keep Yourself Healthy

Bronchitis is an uncomfortable illness and can cause a disruption to your sleep and to your daily life. There are some things you can do to protect yourself from falling ill:

  1. 1
    Avoid tobacco smoke when possible.
    Smoking and being exposed to second-hand smoke does increase your chances of falling ill with bronchitis. Try to avoid exposure to cigarette smoke when you can; and if you are a smoker, consider quitting smoking.
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  2. 2
    Wear a surgical mask or other personal protective equipment (PPE).
    If your area is heavily polluted or if you are exposed to dust or fumes through your line of work, consider protecting yourself by wearing a surgical mask or appropriate PPE designated by your job.
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  3. 3
    Take care of your immune system.
    Since acute bronchitis may follow a cold or flu, maintaining a healthy immune system can add a layer of protection against bronchitis and many other viruses. Practicing good hygiene, dietary, and sleep habits is crucial to keeping your immunity high, especially during times in which viruses are likely to spread.
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  4. 4
    Get a flu shot.
    For many people, a flu shot adds an extra layer of protection against the seasonal flu that will reach your area. Since the flu may turn into bronchitis, it may be sensible for you to protect yourself against this seasonal virus. The influenza vaccine, however, is not recommended for everyone. If you do not currently get a flu shot, speak with your doctor to determine if it may be helpful for you.
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Additional Information

Bronchitis is typically not a serious illness, but may lead to pneumonia if the patient is not careful. In addition, repeated bouts of bronchitis should be evaluated by a doctor to make sure the patient is not at risk for developing a more serious illness. Above, we have discussed possible symptoms of bronchitis, what you should tell your doctor when you arrive for your appointment, and some of the ways you can take action to protect yourself not only against bronchitis, but against many other viral illnesses as well.

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References

See our other tutorials on health: Give First Aid, Recognize a Seizure, Give CPR to an Infant, Treat a Seizure, Give CPR, Get Help with a Drinking Problem, Give PPV, Make Yourself Throw Up, and Setup Emergency Medical ID on an iPhone 6s Plus.

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Categories : Physical Health

Recent edits by: VisiHow, Train Wreck

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