During flu season, germs are easily spread as people spend more time indoors. What many people don’t know is that this also means you’re at a higher risk for developing bronchitis. It has similar symptoms to the flu and is often caused by the same virus, but its effects are worse, and you may have a harder time breathing. This is because the bronchial tubes that carry air to your lungs become infected and swell up. Your body also produces mucus to fight off the sickness, which can cause more breathing issues.
There are two types of bronchitis: acute and chronic. Acute bronchitis is more common, and its symptoms typically last for a few weeks. Chronic bronchitis never fully goes away and regularly returns. Those with a weaker immune system, those who smoke or live with a smoker or spend a lot of time breathing poor-quality air are most at risk. Since bronchitis is often caused by the same virus as the flu, you can lower your chance of developing it by getting a flu vaccine.
The symptoms of acute bronchitis may be a cough that includes mucus, chest congestion, shortness of breath and a wheezing or whistling sound when breathing. You may also feel body aches, chills, exhaustion, fever, sore throat or a runny, stuffy nose. Acute bronchitis typically goes away within a few weeks, but the cough can stick around for longer. Speed up your recovery by staying well hydrated, getting plenty of sleep and keeping a humidifier in your bedroom.
Taking care of your body is the best way to fight off the sickness. If you think you have acute bronchitis, talk to your doctor. They’ll be able to assess your symptoms and determine the best path for treatment. If you’re not feeling well enough to make it to the doctor’s office, try using telehealth. You can chat with a doctor in minutes from your phone or computer and get treatment for minor illnesses.