Bronchitis is a tough infection, and it’s more serious than the common cold. If you’ve ever had it, you’ll know how debilitating and distracting it can be to your personal life, work life, and health. Bronchitis is usually accompanied by a nasty cough that lasts up to three weeks. In some cases, it could last longer. Chronic bronchitis can last for three months or more and frequently recur. A virus causes over 90% of cases. These viruses spread when people sneeze or cough. Some things that can make it more likely you’ll get bronchitis include exposure to dust, air pollution, and tobacco smoke. Acute bronchitis is a very common infection. It affects about 5% of the US population each year. Over 10 million people visit their doctors every year to address the condition, and about 70% of them are given antibiotics. However, antibiotics rarely help, because most cases of bronchitis are caused by a viral infection. Treatment for bronchitis entails plenty of bed rest, soothing remedies to help with the cough, and sometimes paracetamol and NSAIDs (for the liver). Bronchitis is spread by airborne respiratory droplets, so it can spread fast in a closed setting.
The most distinctive symptom of bronchitis is a cough that begins dry and hacking. After a couple of days, it starts to produce mucus, too. You may have a slight fever and feel sort of tired. Your cough will probably subside in a couple of weeks, but some people continue to cough for a month or more. This can be really distracting to your daily life, and your coworkers won’t want to be around you when you’re coughing like that. If your symptoms get worse, you could be developing pneumonia. Watch your symptoms to ensure they don’t progress into dangerous territory.