How Long Does Bronchitis Cough Last?

Ask the experts

What can be done to stop a chronic cough that has accompanied bronchitis? We have gone through antibiotic (Erythromycin) (five days so far) treatment , Brontex, and the cough shows no signs of abating -- leaving my wife weak and tired. How long is the cough supposed to remain? Is there anything more to be done?

Doctor's response

Cough of 5 days duration is better termed "acute". Your wife's complaint likely relates to acute bronchitis and can be relieved by drugs which suppress coughing (anti-tussives). Over the counter preparations such as Robitussin DM are quite helpful. A more potent prescriptive drug would be Tussionex suspension which is very effective. Other strategies include increasing the intake of fluids to liquefy secretions and use of a "mucolytic" like glyceryl guacolate to thin the mucous. Most bronchitis is self limited and often of viral origin; therefore, antibiotics may be of limited benefit. Erythromycin is a good choice to cover possible bacterial infection and she may respond slowly over several weeks. Should the cough linger for a month, further evaluation including blood tests, sputum culture and a chest film is advisable. Other cases of unexplained cough include asthma, sinusitis and gastroesophageal reflux disease (heartburn).

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Last Editorial Review: 1/11/2018