The treatment for bronchitis depends on whether it is caused by a virus or bacteria. Acute bronchitis caused by a virus usually goes away on its own within a few weeks, and treatment is focused on relieving symptoms. Antibiotics are not effective against viruses, so they are not usually prescribed for viral bronchitis. However, if the cause is bacterial, antibiotics may be prescribed.
Some of the best treatments for bronchitis include:
- Rest: It is important to get plenty of rest when you have bronchitis to help your body fight off the infection.
- Hydration: Drinking plenty of fluids helps to thin mucus and make coughing more productive. It also helps to prevent dehydration.
- Cough suppressants: Over-the-counter cough suppressants can help to reduce coughing and allow you to get more restful sleep.
- Bronchodilators: If you are having difficulty breathing, your doctor may prescribe a bronchodilator to help open up your airways.
- Steam inhalation: Inhaling steam from a hot shower or using a humidifier can help to loosen mucus and make coughing more productive.
- Antibiotics: If the cause of your bronchitis is bacterial, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.
It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions and finish the entire course of antibiotics if they are prescribed. It is also important to avoid smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke, which can irritate your lungs and make your symptoms worse.