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Bronchitis (Adult: Abx Tx)

Illustration showing the lungs and a close up view of a bronchial tube (bronchus).

BRONCHITIS is an infection of the air passages (“bronchial tubes”). It often occurs during the common cold. Symptoms include cough with mucus (phlegm) and low-grade fever. Bronchitis usually lasts 7-14 days. Mild cases can be treated with simple home remedies. More severe infection is treated with an antibiotic.


Home Care:

  1. If symptoms are severe, rest at home for the first 2-3 days. When you resume activity, don't let yourself get too tired.

  2. Do not smoke. Avoid being exposed to the smoke of others.

  3. You may use acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) to control fever or pain, unless another medicine was prescribed for this. [NOTE: If you have chronic liver or kidney disease or ever had a stomach ulcer or GI bleeding, talk with your doctor before using these medicines.]

  4. Your appetite may be poor, so a light diet is fine. Avoid dehydration by drinking 6-8 glasses of fluids per day (water, soft, drinks, juices, tea, soup, etc.). Extra fluids will help loosen secretions in the lungs.

  5. Over-the-counter cough medicines that contain “dextromethorphan” (such as Robitussin DM) and decongestants (Actifed or Sudafed) may help relieve cough and congestion. [NOTE: Do not use decongestants if you have high blood pressure.]

  6. Finish all antibiotic medicine, even if you are feeling better after only a few days.

Follow Up

with your doctor or as directed if you don’t start to feel better after three days.

[NOTE: If you are age 65 or older, or if you have chronic asthma or COPD, we recommend a PNEUMOCOCCAL VACCINATION every five years and a yearly INFLUENZAVACCINATION (FLU-SHOT) every autumn. Ask your doctor about this. If you had an X-ray, a radiologist will review it. You will be notified of any new findings that may affect your care.]

Get Prompt Medical Attention

if any of the following occur:

  • Fever over 100.4°F (38.0°C) for more than three days

  • Trouble breathing, wheezing or pain with breathing

  • Coughing up blood or increased amounts of colored sputum

  • Weakness, drowsiness, headache, facial pain, ear pain or a stiff neck


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