Acute Bronchitis (bron-KITE-is) is swelling and irritation of the windpipe (trachea) or the airways to the lungs. It occurs most often in the winter and usually starts as a cold. The cold then spreads from the nose and throat to the windpipe and airways.
This disease is usually caused by germs (virus or bacteria) spread through the air or by contact with someone who is infected. Other causes are allergies or breathing air that contains chemical fumes, dust, or smoke. Your chances of getting bronchitis increase if you have lung disease, smoke, go out in cold, humid weather, do not eat healthy foods, or have become run down from another illness.
The most common symptom is a dry cough. Later in the illness the cough may bring up sputum. Other complaints may include a low fever (less than 101 degrees F (38.3 degrees C), burning chest pain or pressure behind the breastbone, noisy breathing (wheezing), and trouble breathing.
Most people can be treated at home. Care may include cough medicine to control the cough (suppressants) and cough expectorants to thin the sputum. Antibiotics may also be needed to fight an infection caused by bacteria. You may need to be put into the hospital if you get pneumonia or chronic bronchitis, or if you fail to get better.
If you don't follow your doctor's directions, your illness can get worse or turn into pneumonia. Remember, acute bronchitis can be cured with medicine.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO
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What to Expect While You're There
You may encounter the following procedures and equipment during your stay.