Bronchitis (Acute) (cont.)

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Is acute bronchitis contagious?

The majority of people with acute bronchitis are contagious if the cause is an infectious agent such as a virus or bacterium. People are usually less likely to be contagious as the symptoms wane. However, acute bronchitis that is caused by exposure to pollutants, tobacco smoke, or other environmental agents is not contagious.

How is acute bronchitis diagnosed?

Because acute bronchitis has many causes is often self-limiting within 10 to 20 days and its main symptom is coughing, most doctors consider the diagnosis after a history and physical without additional tests. If the diagnosis is not clear or the specific cause needs to be identified , such tests as sputum cytology, throat cultures, influenza tests, chest X-rays, blood gas, procalcitonin levels and even bronchoscopy have been used to identify specific viral, bacterial and other sources or causes or rule out more severe illnesses (such as a pneumonia). In many people, the symptoms of acute bronchitis are mild to moderate and symptoms like cough are treated for a few days before a more extensive workup is begun.

What treatments are there for acute bronchitis?

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Bed rest and supportive care such as reducing coughing are the main treatments for acute bronchitis. In most individuals, antibiotics are not needed, especially those who have as cause viral or environmental factors. For some patients who have wheezing with their cough, beta2 agonists may be helpful (bronchodilators). Perhaps the most useful treatments are directed at reducing coughing symptoms with over the counter preparations containing guaifenesin and mucolytics. NSAIDs are often added to reduce inflammation and help relieve discomfort. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend giving OTC cough and cold medications to children under two years of age; these medicines may cause harmful side-effects that can be life-threatening to young children.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/20/2013

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Acute Bronchitis - Experience Question: Please describe your experience with acute bronchitis.
Acute Bronchitis - Symptoms Question: What symptoms did you experience with acute bronchitis, and how long did they last?
Acute Bronchitis - Treatments Question: What treatments were effective for your case of bronchitis?
Acute Bronchitis - Risk Factors Question: What risk factors do you have for acute bronchitis?
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Acute Bronchitis - Complications Question: What complications did you experience with acute bronchitis?

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