What is Bronchitis?
Bronchitis is inflammation of the large airways (breathing tubes) in your lungs. there are two types, acute and chronic. Acute bronchitis is often associated with an upper respiratory infection like a “chest cold”, causing a cough that is frequently associated with yellow or greenish sputum. This condition is usually predated by a head cold ( runny nose, sore throat, and congestion) which then migrates into the chest. Acute bronchitis can be caused by either a virus or bacteria, and rarely fungal organisms. The symptoms can be fever, cough, shortness of breath, sputum production when coughing, fatigue and malaise.
Chronic Bronchitis is when an individual has a cough productive of sputum for more than three months in a span of two years. Its often a consequence of smoking tobacco and is part of the disease known as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
How is Bronchitis Diagnosed?
A medical provider will ask you questions and examine you, then combine that information to form a working diagnosis. Often she will use a chest x-ray, pulse oximetry, and sometimes a spirometry machine to help solidify the diagnosis.
How is Bronchitis Treated?
The treatment depends upon what kind of bronchitis your doctor thinks you have at the time of your urgent care visit. Acute bronchitis can be viral and in that case symptomatic treatment is recommended: rest, fluids, fever reducing medications, and cough medication. If they provider thinks its bacterial, then an antibiotic will be prescribed in addition the the symptomatic care mentioned above for the viral type. Chronic bronchitis requires specialized inhalers and in both types the cessation of smoking is paramount to one’s recovery.
When should I go to Urgent Care?
When your moderately ill seek medical attention at an urgent care, as severe illness is always best suited for an emergency room. Moderate illness might include a fever, cough, and fatigue but significant shortness of breath should be be evaluated in the ER. Its always best to err on the side of caution and seek medical attention. Urgent care clinics often have limited hours while the ER is open 24 hours per day.