How Long Does Asthmatic Bronchitis Last?

Medically Reviewed on 12/30/2020
The flares depend on the patient's lung function and immune response.
The flares depend on the patient’s lung function and immune response.

The duration of the disease usually depends on the patient’s overall health and age. In patients with acute bronchitis symptoms may last less than 10 days. In patients with severe asthmatic bronchitis, the symptoms are recurrent and usually last between 30 days to even 2 years with flares and remissions. The flares depend on the patient’s lung function and immune response. In extreme cases, it may affect the quality of life and may also cause death. The symptoms may include:

  • Breathlessness or short breath while talking, laughing or running
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Sleep apnea or trouble while sleeping caused by breathlessness
  • Wheezing (whistling sound from the chest while sleeping or lying down)
  • Cold and flu due to infection
  • Low-grade fever
  • Productive cough
  • Excess mucus

Triggering factors may include:

It is recommended that a person sees a doctor immediately if they experience:

  • Symptoms that do not clear up in 3 weeks
  • Fever of 100.4° F or higher
  • Recurrent episodes
  • Cough with blood
  • Constant wheezing
  • Trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin or nails

What are the different types of asthmatic bronchitis?

Asthmatic bronchitis is the swelling of small airways inside the lung causing cough and breathlessness. Bronchial asthma is separated into allergic and nonallergic (intrinsic) asthma according to its respective triggers.

  • Allergic asthma: Symptoms are triggered by an allergic reaction, which means that the airway of the affected person reacts more intensely than necessary often to a harmless substance. Allergic asthma often initially presents in early childhood and adolescence and is often due to a hereditary predisposition.
  • Intrinsic asthma: Initially presents at the age of 30-40 years and is caused by different factors. Triggers may include respiratory tract infections, genetic incompatibility with certain medications, or chemical or toxic substances from the environment (smog, ozone, dust, etc.)
  • As with special forms of bronchial asthma, asthma is also prevalent in severely overweight women. Specific characteristics also are associated with asthma in smokers.

Depending on severity:

  • Acute: Usually, it occurs due to a viral infection; rarely, a bacterial infection is involved. It may start as cold. Symptoms may last 1-2 weeks; the condition is temporary. Typically, it does not cause permanent breathing problems in most people. However, people with respiratory diseases, such as asthma, or those with a weakened immune system are at an increased risk of complications.
  • Severe: Doctors consider it as severe if a person coughs and produces mucus for at least 3 months in 1 year for 2 years in a row. Although the severity of symptoms does not always remain constant, the disease does not go away. It may lead to further respiratory problems. The common cause is cigarette smoking. Eventually, it may lead to permanent damage to the lungs.

QUESTION

Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease. See Answer

What is the treatment for asthmatic bronchitis?

Although there is currently no cure for asthmatic bronchitis, it can be managed with medication and lifestyle changes.

  • Bronchodilators: Salbutamol, Salmeterol, Formoterol, Ipratropium, and Theophylline act by relaxing (dilate) the smooth muscle of the airways (bronchioles) and allow for better airflow through the lungs.
  • Steroids: Beclomethasone, Budesonide, and Fluticasone reduce the swelling in the airways. These are generally used as adjuncts to provide relief from acute symptoms.
    • Both oral and inhaled corticosteroids are used for treating asthmatic bronchitis.
    • A common side effect of these medications is the suppression of the immune system, making you prone to infections, weight gain, and brittle bones.
  • Treating secretions: Guaifenesin
    • Excess mucus is a complication of asthmatic bronchitis and can increase breathing difficulties.
    • It is important to keep mucus secretions thin by staying hydrated.
    • Drinking a lot of fluid and using a cool-mist humidifier can thin secretions and make them easier to clear.
    • Medications like Guaifenesin is used to loosen mucus secretions and is available over the counter (OTC).
  • Leukotriene Modifiers: Montelukast sodium, Zafirlukast, and Zileuton 
    • These medications block chemicals that cause the airways to narrow and tighten.
  • Antibiotics:
    • Antibiotics are used in the treatment of asthmatic bronchitis only if the active bacterial infection is identified.
  • Oxygen administration:
    • The temporary administration of oxygen or even hospitalization may be required in very severe cases of asthmatic bronchitis, but this is usually rare.

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Medically Reviewed on 12/30/2020
References
Griffith DE, Garcia JG. Asthmatic bronchitis. Semin Respir Infect. March 1988;3(1):27-39. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3283880/

WebMD. Asthmatic Bronchitis. https://www.webmd.com/asthma/asthmatic-bronchitis-symptoms-treatment