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How Long Does Bronchitis Last?

woman coughing

If you’re battling through a bout of bronchitis, the big question on your mind is likely “How long is this going to last?” or even “Will this ever go away?” Bronchitis—a condition characterized by inflammation in the bronchial tube linings—can trigger bothersome symptoms like persistent coughing, wet coughs that produce thick mucus, chest discomfort, and fatigue. It’s also sometimes referred to as a chest cold. 

The majority of people with bronchitis have symptoms for about 10 to 14 days, although some symptoms (notably cough and fatigue) may last up to a month. Older adults can experience disruptive symptoms for longer and may have higher risk for potentially serious complications like pneumonia. 

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Acute Bronchitis vs. Chronic Bronchitis  

An important consideration when discussing the duration of bronchitis is what type is present. Most cases of bronchitis are acute, meaning that it develops as a result of a virus, bacterial infection, or inhaled air pollutants. Acute bronchitis usually lasts for ten to 14 days and may occur after a common cold or another upper respiratory infection. 

Chronic bronchitis, on the other hand, is a more serious condition that falls under the umbrella of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It is defined as long-term bronchial tube inflammation that produces a persistent, phlegmy cough for longer than three months, and then is followed by episodes of bronchitis that come and go for at least two consecutive years. Chronic bronchitis typically affects smokers, although exposure to toxic chemicals may also contribute to this condition. 

When to See a Doctor for Bronchitis  

The good news is that acute bronchitis usually resolves its own. As your body’s immune system works to fights off the infection, it’s wise to:  

  • Prioritize rest 
  • Drink plenty of water 
  • Avoid secondhand smoke exposure  
  • Use an air humidifier 
  • Take an over-the-counter cough medicine 
  • Use throat lozenges or honey to relieve a sore throat 

Some people with bronchitis may require medical care. Promptly consult with a medical professional if your symptoms: 

  • Last longer than three weeks 
  • Are severe in nature 
  • Prevent you from sleeping 
  • Are accompanied by a fever higher than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit 
  • Include a cough that produces blood  
  • Cause wheezing or shortness of breath  
  • Go away and then return

It is particularly important to seek professional medical care if you are an older adult or have a medical condition that weakens your immune system. Individuals with chronic bronchitis should stay on top of their symptoms and report any changes to their medical provider. In the event that you or someone around you is experiencing trouble breathing or severe chest pain, call 911 immediately. 

In-Home Bronchitis Treatment

child receiving care at home

If you need timely treatment for bronchitis, DispatchHealth is here to make your life easier. We know how miserable it can be to trek to a crowded urgent care center or doctor’s office when you’re feeling fatigued or battling a stubborn cough–especially as the COVID-19 crisis rages on. That’s why our experienced clinicians offer on-demand, in-home medical care to adult and pediatric patients 365 days a year. Simply put, we bring personalized, same-day medical care to your doorstep! 

DispatchHealth’s qualified medical teams are equipped to provide many of the same services as a hospital emergency room, but do so at a fraction of the price. In fact, a visit from DispatchHealth costs about the same as a trip to an urgent care clinic. Our teams are committed to delivering the highest quality of medical care and have ample experience assisting patients with chronic bronchitis and other forms of COPD. Following every visit, we send detailed medical reports to our patients’ routine healthcare providers to ensure a seamless treatment experience. And most importantly, we’re taking every possible precaution to keep our patients safe during the COVID-19 crisis, including thoroughly sanitizing equipment and vehicles between appointments and wearing personal protection equipment. 

Receive the bronchitis treatment you need to breathe easier without ever leaving home. To request a visit from Dispatch Health, just give us a call, use our app, or go on our website. Our team is here to answer any questions you may have. 

Sources

DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies.

Sources referenced in this article:

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bronchitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20355566 
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/how-long-does-bronchitis-last 
  3. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/acute-bronchitis#:~:text=Most%20symptoms%20of%20acute%20bronchitis,is%20more%20common%20among%20smokers
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/community/for-patients/common-illnesses/bronchitis.html