The Cold's Uglier Cousin
Did you know that your “chest cold” could actually be something a little more serious? Acute bronchitis, to be precise. Bronchitis often starts off as a simple common cold, but if the cold goes untreated it can worsen into this lower respiratory infection. Bronchitis is more common in fall and winter than in other seasons. The symptoms of bronchitis are similar to those of the common cold, but bronchitis does present some symptoms that the cold does not.
Symptoms of Bronchitis
- Sore or aching chest from coughing
- Wheezing or whistling sound while breathing
- Trouble breathing
- “Wet” Coughs (often involves coughing up mucus)
- Headaches and body aches
- Sore Throat
- Watery Eyes
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Chest congestion
Bronchitis can be caused by irritants like dust, pollen, or smoke entering and irritating your lungs, as well as from viruses that cause the common cold. Bronchitis causes the bronchi of your lungs to become inflamed and to begin to produce too much mucus. You see, your lungs produce mucus regularly, but the inflammation causes them to produce more to try to flush out the virus and irritants. The airways of your lungs stay inflamed for about three to ten days while you’re sick, but the cough can continue to last for a few weeks.
Like with other viruses and diseases, it’s pretty easy to prevent the spread of bronchitis. Just wash your hands, clean surfaces you interact with while you are sick, and cough or sneeze into tissues instead of your hand. If you keep yourself and your children up to date on recent vaccinations the possibility you have of contacting bronchitis is lessened. Bronchitis is usually pretty harmless, but it can be dangerous to those with weak immune systems such as: children and infants, the elderly, and those with cancer or other chronic diseases. In these people, it is possible for bronchitis to develop into pneumonia if the infection gets severe.
Go to your nearest HealthCARE Express location if you develop a fever above 100°F, have a hard time breathing, cough up bloody mucus, or if you’re sick for longer than three weeks. We can set you back on the right track to getting better faster.