Acute bronchitis, commonly known as a chest cold, is a viral or bacterial infection in the bronchial tubes that affects your ability to breathe normally, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A chest cold can last up to two weeks.
Chest Cold Symptoms
Acute bronchitis is commonly caused by the common cold virus, complications from allergies or environmental factors, according to MedlinePlus. Chest cold symptoms include chest discomfort, mucus in your chest and throat, fever, chills and shortness of breath. Talk to your doctor about the best treatment for a chest cold, especially if you are on any medications for another condition.
If your chest cold is the result of a viral infection, your body's immune system will have to fight off the virus on its own, according to MedlinePlus. In order to help your body ward off the infection, you should implement lifestyle changes. The University of Maryland's Medical Center states that getting plenty of rest is one of the best natural treatments for a chest cold. Other natural treatments include increasing the amount of liquids in your diet, avoiding caffeinated beverages and alcohol, and taking hot liquids, such as broth from soup and herbal teas, to help thin mucus secretions in the bronchial tubes. Additionally, running a humidifier in the house, especially at night while sleeping can be useful. The increased humidity can provide relief for restricted breathing.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that over-the-counter medications can be used to reduce the symptoms of your chest cold. Over-the-counter drugs will not cure or shorten the duration of your cold, instead, they simply help you cope until the infection clears. Pain relievers/fever reducers can help maintain a healthy body temperature and reduce pain. Expectorants are used to thin mucus, making coughing more affective at draining fluid from your airways. Cough suppressants are used to restrict the coughing reflex from becoming overactive, leading to further complications. It is advisable to consult with a physician before using any over-the-counter medication.
After a doctor evaluates the condition, she may prescribe different medications based on the severity of the infection. If your chest cold is the result of a bacterial infection, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics to kill the harmful bacteria. Antibiotics should be taken exactly as directed for as long as directed, even if symptoms improve quickly. If you are having severe difficulty breathing, a doctor may prescribe an inhaler that opens the airways.