Bronchitis accounts for 10 million office visits a year in the United States. Most of the time, patients are diagnosed with an acute case that is caused by a virus. These cases often go away on their own in a few weeks. In other circumstances, patients suffer from chronic bronchitis, a form of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), and experience bouts of bronchitis regularly as an ongoing problem. 9 million new cases of chronic bronchitis are diagnosed every year.
Although most cases are diagnosed as acute cases, there are many situations when bronchitis can be considered a serious medical condition. These circumstances should be taken seriously and can be life threatening.
Many patients wonder if their bronchial symptoms could be dangerous or progress. For those who are suffering from acute or chronic bronchitis, it can often be confusing to determine when medical attention should be sought.
Symptoms of Bronchitis
Both acute and chronic bronchitis have many shared symptoms. Some of these symptoms include:
- Persistent Cough, With or Without Mucus
- Mild Headache
- Mild Body Aches, Fatigue
- Chest Soreness, Tightness
- Difficulty Breathing, Wheezing
If any of these, or other symptoms, seem severe or concerning, the patient should visit a local urgent care office for evaluation and treatment immediately.
The most common form of bronchitis is acute bronchitis. This form is usually a result of a viral infection, such as influenza, and symptoms should disappear within a few weeks.
Chronic bronchitis is defined as a productive cough that persists for three months out of the year, for more than two consecutive years. This is a serious medical condition that can cause airway obstruction.
Complications and Dangers Associated with Bronchitis
For those in vulnerable groups, such as those with weakened immune systems, the elderly, and those with COPD, including those with chronic bronchitis there are serious complications that can arise from a bout with bronchitis.
Both bronchitis and pneumonia share many of the same symptoms, including cough, fatigue, and chest pain. However, these two illnesses are located and operate in different locations. Bronchitis affects the bronchial tubes, while pneumonia affects the air sacs within the lungs. Pneumonia symptoms are usually more severe than bronchitis. Worse even, bronchitis can progress to pneumonia.
If you are part of a vulnerable population visit an urgent care center for any bronchial-type symptoms immediately.
Contact Your Healthcare Provider
Whether you are suffering from acute or chronic bronchitis, it is a wise decision to contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible. Your doctor can evaluate your symptoms, history, and medical conditions to determine the best course of treatment.