The question of how to treat bronchitis has become controversial in the last couple of decades as patients have become more demanding of their doctors, researchers have discovered that the vast majority of bronchitis cases are caused by viruses, and the number of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria have rapidly multiplied. The reality is, the right treatment option depends on the type of bronchitis and the underlying cause, but the vast majority of bronchitis cases require no medical intervention at all.
Occupation bronchitis is caused by environmental exposure to smoke, dust, acid, and other air pollutants on the job. It is treated by removing the patient from the toxic work site. Once the patient is removed from the toxic environment, the condition usually resolves itself quickly.
Viral infections account for more than 95 percent of acute bronchitis cases. Viral bronchitis is most often relatively mild and usually resolves itself within a matter of days without any medical intervention. Unfortunately, patients bothered by their symptoms often demand prescriptions for antibiotics from their physicians, even though antibiotics are useless at fighting viral infections. In the past, physicians often acquiesced to their patients’ demands, but this practice has become controversial as the evidence that unneeded prescriptions for antibiotics leads to an increase in the number of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria grows. More and more physicians are recommending that their patients treat viral bronchitis with over-the-counter cold and flu medications that can ease their symptoms. They also suggest plenty of rest and non-caffeinated fluids. Antibiotics are still the first line of offense for treating rare cases of acute bacterial bronchitis, which usually responds quickly to the medication. However, most cases of acute bacterial bronchitis will resolve quickly even without antibiotics. Some people with compromised respiratory and immune systems are vulnerable to acute fungal bronchitis, which can be treated with a combination of anti-fungal medications and bronchodialating inhalers.
Although chronic bronchitis technically refers to any case of bronchitis lasting more than three months, it generally refers to persistent and recurring cases of bronchitis caused by permanent inflammation or irritation of the bronchial tubes. Because the damage has usually been done by years of smoking or exposure to environmental toxins, it is most often irreversible. Doctors can treat the symptoms to make the patient more comfortable.
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