Bronchitis is a serious respiratory illness, which can be either acute or chronic. While at first you may think you have a simple cold with bad congestion and cough, bronchitis is anything but harmless. Untreated, bronchitis can turn into pneumonia, which is much more serious and difficult to get rid of.
At Alpha Internal Medicine in Fayetteville, Georgia, Dr. Betsy Horton and our expert team of physicians can diagnose bronchitis promptly, and then provide appropriate treatment options such as oral medications, IV antibiotics, and steroids to quickly reduce inflammation and kickstart the healing process.
There are two types of bronchitis — acute, and chronic. Acute bronchitis is usually caused by a virus but can be caused by bacteria. The infection inflames the mucus lining of the bronchial tubes, which carry air to and from your lungs. The irritation can produce congestion as the mucus lining swells, and you start coughing due to the irritation.
You might also have a low fever, chills, and discomfort in your chest. Breathing can become difficult as the airway shrinks. Acute bronchitis can turn into pneumonia if not treated, as the infection can spread to the lungs. This is what makes it so important to have a doctor check for bronchitis if you keep coughing.
Chronic bronchitis is diagnosed if you have a cough lasting at least three months for two or more years in a row. This kind of bronchitis is usually caused by lifestyle habits, such as smoking or environmental or work hazards, like dust, chemicals, or air pollution.
Chronic bronchitis can trigger an infection that may also spread to the lungs and cause pneumonia. It is considered a form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and is diagnosed in around nine million people per year.
Dr. Horton asks you questions about your cough and may take a sample of sputum (mucus coughed up from the lungs) for analysis. We may also do blood work to check for bacterial infection, and we perform a chest X-ray onsite if needed to confirm a diagnosis of bronchitis.
If you do have bronchitis, we determine which type and treat you accordingly. We can also determine if the infection has spread to air sacs called alveoli in your lungs, causing pneumonia.
Bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics. However, for viral infections, we focus on relieving your symptoms by suppressing your cough, reducing inflammation, and opening your airway with an inhaler if necessary so you can breathe more freely.
For chronic bronchitis, we concentrate on strengthening your lungs and reducing your body's inflammatory response. We may use oral or IV steroids to help tamp down major inflammatory response in your bronchial tubes and use bronchodilators to help you breathe.
Do you have a cough that won't go away? Call 770-719-5490 today or schedule your appointment online using the online booking feature.