"How long does bronchitis last?" is a question that commonly comes up when you, a loved one, or a friend is suffering from bronchitis. Unfortunately, the answer depends on a number of factors, including the type of bronchitis, the underlying cause of the illness, and what treatment is undertaken.
Occupational bronchitis occurs when a person suffers from inflamed bronchial tubes because of a toxic work environment. Those at risk include people who work in environments where they're routinely exposed to smoke, dust, acids, or other toxic chemicals. As long as the exposure has not gone on long enough to cause permanent lung damage, patients usually recover quickly as long as they are removed from the toxic environment.
Acute bronchitis is most often caused by a viral infection that invades the respiratory system and causes bronchial irritation. With rest and fluids, most cases of acute viral bronchitis begin to improve in a matter of days, although a lingering cough may remain for weeks. Viral bronchitis accounts for more than 95 percent of acute bronchitis cases. Relatively rare cases of bacterial bronchitis usually respond well to antibiotics, but most cases will resolve themselves within two weeks even without medical intervention. Rare cases of fungal bronchitis, which usually only appears in people with compromised respiratory or immune systems, usually respond well to anti-fungal medications as well as inhalers with bronchodilators that can increase airflow to the lungs.
Any case of bronchitis lasting more than three months is technically defined as chronic bronchitis, but the term is used more generally to describe a condition where a person's bronchial tubes have become permanently inflamed, resulting in persistent and recurring cases of bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis is usually caused by behaviors or environmental conditions that consistently expose the patient to toxic air, such as smoking or working in a hazardous environment. Unfortunately, unless the patient can end behaviors or remove themselves from the toxic environment before permanent lung damage is done, chronic bronchitis is usually an irreversible condition. It is possible to treat the symptoms and thereby ease the patient's condition.