If you are tired, achy, running a low-grade fever, coughing up mucus and generally feeling blah, you may have acute bronchitis, or a chest cold. Bronchitis occurs when the bronchial tubes in your lungs become irritated and inflamed. As a protective mechanism, the tubes secrete mucus and become swollen, causing you to cough. In most cases, antibiotics are unnecessary and the symptoms of a chest cold can be alleviated with home remedies.
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Runny Nose, Sore Throat
Acute bronchitis usually occurs in conjunction with an upper respiratory tract infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You probably have a runny nose. All the excess mucus drips down your throat, which exacerbates the chest cold cough. Harvard Medical School recommends a homemade nasal irrigation solution for a runny nose. Mix 1/8 teaspoon salt with a cup of warm water. Dissolve the salt completely, then soak a clean washcloth in the solution. Hold the washcloth over your nose and snort a few drops of the solution. Repeat the procedure several times a day.
A Pinch of Pepper
Over-the-counter cough syrups may make you drowsy. If you feel daring, you can whip up a soothing syrup with ingredients you already have in your kitchen. Bonnie K. McMillen, R.N., B.S.N., recommends a mixture of honey, apple cider vinegar and warm water with just a pinch of cayenne pepper and ground ginger. Honey has antimicrobial properties, cayenne pepper is a purported analgesic and ginger is an anti-inflammatory. Just take a few teaspoons of the cough syrup.
Inhaling warm, wet air will keep your nose and throat from becoming dry and irritated. If you have a humidifier, place it next to your bed so you are breathing moist air while you sleep. Otherwise, simply fill a bowl with very hot water and inhale the steam. A long, hot shower or bath is also a good option. Adequate hydration is an important part of recovery from illness. Opt for warm liquids such as broth-based soup or herbal tea and inhale the steam as you sip the beverage. Skip caffeinated tea or coffee as it may interfere with your sleep.
While it would be nice to pop a pill and be back on your feet immediately, your immune system is working overtime to heal your respiratory tract. If you keep the same frantic pace, your illness may drag on for weeks. When you are sick, rest and sleep are the best possible home remedies. Take a day away from the office or at least cut a few activities from your schedule. Pull the curtains tight and go to bed early. If possible, take a nice long nap during the day, too.