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What are the Best Acute Bronchitis Treatments?

Nicole Madison
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The best acute bronchitis treatments depend on the cause of the condition. If a person has acute bronchitis that is caused by a virus, he may treat it at home with rest, liquids, a humidifier, and over-the-counter (OTC) medications. When home treatment proves inadequate, however, medical professionals may prescribe medications called beta-2 antagonists to help open up tight, irritated airways. Bronchitis caused by bacteria, however, is often best treated with antibiotics.

Home care techniques typically make the best treatments for bronchitis. A person with this condition may apply the same techniques as he might to caring for himself while he has the flu or a bad cold. For example, a person with this illness should get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids to stay well hydrated. He may also use a humidifier to keep the mucus in his airways loose so his coughs will prove more effective in clearing it.

OTC remedies are also among the best acute bronchitis treatments. While they cannot cure bronchitis, they may help a person feel better while he is sick. For example, an individual may use a cough suppressant to temporarily stop a cough or an expectorant to make coughing up troublesome mucus easier. Likewise, pain relievers such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and aspirin may be useful for treating fever and providing relief from accompanying aches and pains. Most healthcare professionals recommend against the use of aspirin for children, however.

Sometimes, prescription medications make the best treatment for acute bronchitis. This may be the case, for example, when an individual with bronchitis has trouble breathing. In such a case, a medical professional may prescribe medication called beta-2 antagonists to help open the patient’s airways. Often, these medications also help relieve coughing.

Most people who are diagnosed with acute bronchitis do not need antibiotics to treat it, but there are some cases in which they are beneficial. For example, a medical professional may prescribe antibiotics if a patient has developed bronchitis because of a bacterial infection or if he is at risk of serious complications as a result of the illness. Unfortunately, antibiotics are not effective against the majority of cases because bronchitis is usually caused by a virus. Interestingly, many medical professionals routinely prescribed antibiotics for bronchitis in the past, but today they are less likely to do so because their unnecessary use is a contributing factor in the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

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Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a TheHealthBoard writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.

Discussion Comments

By anon947232 — On Apr 24, 2014

Ugh! I feel awful. I have a very sore throat that feels like I'm swallowing razor blades, and acute bronchitis. I put my humidifier on last night and it all seems a lot worse this morning. I know it's because everything is loosening up. I put Vicks on my chest. An expectorant cough mixture and rest for me.

By anon307463 — On Dec 05, 2012

I had the flu last week and have been coughing a lot. Would Covonia be any good for me? I tried Benylin (Chesty Cough) but found it to be weak for me. I am now trying Covonia Bronchial Balsam and Covonia (chesty cough). The Bronchial Balsam works better with me for a dry cough. I do feel I need something a tad stronger though. Any suggestions? --Len

By kylee07drg — On Mar 18, 2012

@shell4life – Prescription cough syrup can really ease the strain that bronchitis places on your upper body. My doctor prescribed me some with codeine in it, and it did several good things.

It coated my airways and helped reduce the inflammation. I felt soothed a few seconds after swallowing it.

The codeine helped take away some of the chest pain. I had coughed so much that my abdominal muscles were sore, and it gave these a break, as well. It also helped me sleep so that my body could repair itself.

By orangey03 — On Mar 17, 2012

I accidentally inhaled a large amount of dust while cleaning out an old shed, and I developed acute bronchitis because of it. The coughing began right away, and it didn't stop for about a week.

My body was producing phlegm to try and get rid of the dust in my lungs. I had a seemingly endless supply of the stuff, and coughing it up didn't seem to put a dent in the sickness.

I took ibuprofen to ease the inflammation, but it wasn't until I had coughed up phlegm for about four days that it began to subside. I will never clean a filthy room without wearing a mask again.

By Oceana — On Mar 16, 2012

@simrin – That eucalyptus goop is the best stuff for treating bronchitis, in my opinion. It does the best job of opening up my airways.

My mother used to rub it on my chest when I was sick as a child, and within minutes, I would be breathing a bit easier. It actually seems to penetrate my skin and reach into my airways.

I can also put it in my humidifier. Mine has a special slot for it, and as soon as the water heats up and it starts to steam, the eucalyptus fills the air and helps me breathe.

By shell4life — On Mar 16, 2012

Even though bronchitis is usually the result of a viral infection, I think it is best to get checked out by a doctor, just in case it might be bacterial. Bacterial infections can worsen and develop into pneumonia if left untreated.

I have gotten absolutely no help from OTC drugs or home treatments when I have had bronchitis in the past. If I go to my doctor, even if she determines that the cause is a virus, she can at least give me some powerful cough medicine to help me deal with it.

By SteamLouis — On Mar 15, 2012

Viral bronchitis is horrible. With bacterial bronchitis, at least you can take antibiotics. With viral, you just have to wait, just like the flu. But it's so painful!

I have this immense pressure on my chest as if someone put something really heavy on it. It prevents me from taking deep breaths. The chronic cough is no good, it won't let me sleep at night and my chest muscles are in agonizing pain from it.

I'm taking anti-inflammatory and pain relievers as treatment for my acute bronchitis. It's not really treating my cough though. I've noticed that the only time I feel better is when I put heat on my chest and back. Hot soup and tea helps a lot too, especially ginger tea seems to soothe my cough. Applying some eucalyptus gel on my chest feels better too.

I'm in bed doing these things over and over again. I can't wait to get all better so I can have a good nights sleep again and go back to work.

By burcidi — On Mar 15, 2012

@anamur-- I don't think smoking could cause bronchitis. Acute bronchitis is an infection of the bronchi in the lungs. So it has to be caused either by a virus or a bacteria. So there are two treatments- anti-inflammatories and pain relievers for a virus and anti-bacterial drugs for bacteria. The article went through this already.

I am sure however that smoking can make the symptoms of acute bronchitis a lot worse. Acute bronchitis already causes difficulty breathing and coughing and so does smoking. If you put them together, it's going to be even worse. It might extend healing time too.

I absolutely agree that anyone dealing with acute bronchitis shouldn't even thing about smoking.

By serenesurface — On Mar 14, 2012

My dad is down with acute bronchitis right now. It's a bacterial infection, so he's on antibiotics as well as an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever. He has been feeling a lot better since he started taking these. He was having a lot of trouble breathing.

He is a smoker and of course, he can't smoke until he gets all better. I think this will give his lungs a nice break too. I wish he would quit altogether, but he won't.

Is it possible for acute bronchitis to be caused by smoking? If it can, could quitting smoking be the best definite treatment of acute bronchitis?

Nicole Madison

Nicole Madison

Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a TheHealthBoard writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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