Acute Bronchitis

Medically reviewed by Carina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS

Bronchitis Treatment

Treatment for more persistent severe symptoms

  • Glucocorticoid steroids and anti-inflammatory medication: These medications help decrease chronic inflammation that may cause tissue damage.
  • Oxygen therapy: to improve oxygen uptake if breathing is difficult.

In the long run, working with a respiratory specialist can help with pulmonary rehabilitation if you suffer from chronic bronchitis caused by COPD.

Behavioral remedies

Given that there isn’t a bronchitis cure, it is important to try and remove the source of irritation if possible.

For example, smoking cessation and workplace modifications may help to minimize your risk of bronchitis. If appropriate, staying active and exercising can help strengthen the muscles involved with breathing.

If you are struggling with breathing, then gentle breathing exercises may help to slow down hyperventilation.

Acute bronchitis treatment

Results from clinical trials into acute bronchitis treatment indicate that the majority of people with acute bronchitis (85%) get better14 without any medical intervention.

Treatment revolves around patient education and supportive care. Antibiotics are not needed for the great majority of patients and are greatly overused for this condition. Reducing antibiotic use for acute bronchitis is a national and international health care priority.

The prescription of non-specific cough medicine in place of antibiotics also has little evidence to support it. However, recent guidelines by experts in the field of pulmonary medicine suggest that there is some benefit from them for short term relief of coughing—particularly at night to aid sleep.

In adults, using throat lozenges, hot tea, honey, smoking cessation, or avoidance of secondhand smoke is a good first step towards achieving symptom relief. Tea and honey are not recommended in children. There are concerns regarding the caffeine content found in tea, as well as c. botulinum contamination that may be found in honey that can cause infant botulism.

Consult a prescriber or pharmacist before using over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine in children. Some are only FDA approved for use in children over a certain age and may require guidance on appropriate use and dosing from a healthcare professional.

Acute bronchitis medicine

If you have any other medical conditions that require you to take medications regularly, be sure to share that information with your prescriber or pharmacist so they can also screen for potential drug interactions and recommend the best OTC medication for you.

May be prescribed

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Some OTC medications a healthcare provider may recommend are:

  • Acetaminophen (generic Tylenol)
  • Ibuprofen (generic Motrin)
  • Guaifenesin (generic Mucinex; Mucinex For Kids; Mucinex Maximum Strength; Robafen Mucus/Chest Congestion; Robafen; Robitussin Mucus+Chest Congest.)
  • Dextromethorphan (generic Delsym Children’s 12 Hour Cough Relief; Delsym; Robafen Cough; Robitussin Children’s 12 Hour Cough; Robitussin 12 Hour Cough; Robitussin Lingering CoughGels; Silphen DM Cough)

Self-care with bronchitis

Self-care techniques in acute bronchitis treatment are important in aiding a speedy return to full health. These may be summarized as follows:

  • Rest and get plenty of sleep: Using a raised pillow may help to alleviate coughing and breathing symptoms at night.
  • Keep warm and eat a healthy balanced diet to ensure that the body receives all the nutrition it needs to boost the immune system and aid recovery. For adults, a few teaspoons of honey may help- it has antiseptic properties and is often used to alleviate a sore throat.
  • Use a humidifier to prevent the air from becoming too dry. This will help make breathing easier.
  • Keep fluid levels up: Drink plenty of warm water to keep the body hydrated and alleviate a sore throat. Water will help thin the mucus in the throat so that it is easier to expel.
  • Take painkillers: Acetaminophen or NSAIDs may reduce the symptoms of fever and pain. Make sure you follow the dosage instructions properly.
  • Avoid busy places to avoid spreading the virus and to reduce exposure to other pathogens which may be in the air while your immune system is compromised.
  • Modify your work environment: If your workplace is the cause of your bronchitis, take steps to eliminate exposure to the allergen-wear a mask to minimize exposure to dust or avoid it altogether until you have recovered.
  • If smoking is the cause, seek medical assistance in developing the best smoking cessation plan for you. This may be your best chance of recovering and may prevent you from developing other illnesses such as COPD or cancer.
  • Follow basic hygiene rules: Wash your hands regularly with soap and water (use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if unavailable) and clean surfaces regularly with disinfectant. Viruses can live for 24 hours on surfaces so it is important to clean thoroughly anything which may have come into contact with the virus (work surfaces, gadgets, toys, door handles, etc.) to stop it from spreading.

Speak to your prescriber or pharmacist for recommendations on over the counter products that best suit your needs and symptoms. Consult your pharmacist before taking any over the counter products especially if you are on other medications to avoid any potential drug interactions.

Disclaimer: The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.

If you are in crisis or you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.