If you have a cold that lasts a long time or a persistent cough, you could have bronchitis and should see a doctor.
Doctors are seeing a lot of cases of bronchitis at family practices, and though most cases are caused by the common cold virus or influenza virus, bronchitis can lead to more serious conditions, such as pneumonia, which require medical treatment.
Symptoms of bronchitis - a serious disorder of the lower respiratory tract - include fever, chills, chest congestion and a productive cough that lasts more than five days.
However, if the cough lasts two to three weeks, and there are more serious symptoms, such as chest pain, shortness of breath and wheezing, it could be an indicator of a even more serious condition and you should see a healthcare provider.
Many people assume when they are diagnosed with bronchitis that they need an antibiotic. However, bronchitis is commonly caused by a virus so antibiotics would not be helpful to patients.
Treatment includes rest, fluids, a humidifier, fever and pain relievers and cough medication.
If there is shortness of breath, difficulty in breathing or wheezing, some patients may require breathing treatments with an inhaler or nebuliser. The patient may also need a short course of oral steroid medication. If breathing problems are severe, it's best for the person to be evaluated in an emergency room.
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Image: Cough from Shutterstock