Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Bronchitis Treatment

Treatment for bronchitis focuses on over-the-counter medications to reduce symptoms, such as body aches, cough, and fever. Because most cases of bronchitis are caused by viruses, antibiotics are usually not an effective treatment. However, a doctor may recommend antibiotics if he or she thinks you have a bacterial infection. Antiviral medications are important if bronchitis is caused by an influenza virus.

Bronchodilator medications may help those with asthma, COPD, or emphysema, who develop worsening wheezing when they have bronchitis. Coughing helps clear mucus from the air passageways. Cough medications are helpful only when the cough interrupts sleep.

Treatment for acute bronchitis may include:

For more information:

Bronchitis Drugs

Bronchitis Antibiotics

Mild bronchitis rarely requires treatment with antibiotics. Antibiotics are usually reserved for people who are at high risk for pneumonia.

Antibiotics include:

Bronchitis Antivirals

If the bronchitis is due to influenza or another viral infection, antibiotics will not be effective.

Anti-viral medications include:

Antiviral drugs can shorten the duration of fever, respiratory symptoms, and other influenza symptoms by 25 to 50%.

Bronchitis Bronchodilators

Bronchitis patients with wheezing may require a bronchodilator medication.

Bronchodilators include:

Sometimes, a nebulizer is used to aerosolize the medication. Some patients find nebulized treatments easier to use.

Bronchitis Questions For Doctor

The following are some important questions to ask before and after the treatment of bronchitis.

Questions to ask before treatment:

  • What are my treatment options?
  • What are the risks associated with treatment?
  • Do I need to stay in the hospital?
    • How long will I be in the hospital?
  • Am I contagious?
    • For how long?
  • What are the complications I should watch for?
  • How long will I be on medication?
  • What are the potential side effects of my medication?
  • Does my medication interact with nonprescription medicines or supplements?
  • Should I take my medication with food?

Questions to ask after treatment:
  • Do I need to change my diet?
  • Are there any medications or supplements I should avoid?
  • When can I resume my normal activities?
  • When can I return to work?
  • What else can I do to reduce my risk for having this problem again?
  • How often will I need to see my doctor for checkups?
  • What local support and other resources are available?

Bronchitis Specialist

Physicians from the following specialties evaluate and treat bronchitis:

Continue to Bronchitis Home Care

Last Updated: Jun 3, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Bronchitis References
  1. Aagaard E, Gonzales R. Management of acute bronchitis in healthy adults. Infect Dis Clin North Am. 2004 Dec;18(4):919-37; x. [15555832]
  2. Harris RH, MacKenzie TD, Leeman-Castillo B: Optimizing antibiotic prescribing for acute respiratory tract infections in an urban urgent care clinic. J Gen Intern Med 2003 May; 18(5): 326-34. [12795730]
  3. Panpanich R, Lerttrakarnnon P, Laopaiboon M. Azithromycin for acute lower respiratory tract infections. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004 Oct 18;(4):CD001954. [15497172]
  4. Smucny J, Fahey T, Becker L: Antibiotics for acute bronchitis (Cochrane Review). Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2000; 4: CD000245. [11034678]
  5. Wark P. Bronchitis (acute). Clin Evid. 2005 Jun;(13):1844-52. [16135312]
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