Most cases of acute bronchitis go away in 2 to 3 weeks. Home treatment may help you feel better.
Home treatment may include:
- Relieving your cough by drinking fluids, using cough drops and avoiding lung irritants. Over-the-counter cough suppressants may help you to stop coughing. And expectorants may make coughing easier so you can bring up mucus. Cough and cold medicines may not be safe for young children or for people who have certain health problems. Before you use them, check the label. If you do use these medicines, always follow the directions about how much to use based on age and in some cases weight.
- Avoiding caffeine and alcohol, which cause you to lose extra fluid from your body and may lead to dehydration.
- Cutting back or stopping smoking, if you smoke.
- Getting enough rest so your body has the energy needed to fight the infection. In general, you feel better sooner if you rest more than usual while you have acute bronchitis.
- Using nonprescription medicine, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen or aspirin, to relieve fever and body aches. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than age 20.
- Breathing moist air from a humidifier, hot shower or sink filled with hot water. The heat and moisture can help keep mucus in your airways moist so it can be coughed out easily.
Contact your doctor if your acute bronchitis gets worse, because this may mean you have pneumonia. Signs of acute bronchitis getting worse include:
- A persistent cough and increasing amounts of mucus being coughed up from the lungs (especially if the mucus is becoming thicker and has more color).
- Shortness of breath.
- Pain in the chest wall.
- Ongoing fever or fever that gets worse.
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