Man in blue shirt holding his chest in pain

Bronchitis Medication: Discover the Most Effective Treatment Options

Man in blue shirt holding his chest in pain

Bronchitis can affect anyone, and it can take its toll on even the healthiest of folks, so it’s a good idea never to wait around on getting diagnosed if there’s a chance you could have this condition. Fortunately, if you catch it early and seek treatment, there are some wonderful treatment options available that can help you feel better in no time.

In this post, we will look at bronchitis, what it is, how it is treated, and what medication and the most effective treatment options available today.

What is Bronchitis?

Bronchitis is defined as a typical viral infection of the bronchial tubes that lead to a cough and the production of sputum. Because this illness attacks the lungs, it can be a major concern for anyone who already has breathing troubles, a history of smoking, pulmonary disease, asthma, and any type of immune disorder which results in inflammation of the lungs.

How Long Does Bronchitis Last?

The amount of time bronchitis lasts can depend on what type of bronchitis a person contracts. Chronic episodes can be shorter but frequently come, whereas acute episodes are longer lasting, and asthmatic episodes range somewhere in the middle, depending on how quickly they are treated.

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What Causes Bronchitis?

Bronchitis can be caused by a virus or a bacterial infection. There is a treatment for bronchitis regardless of which form you have, but the medication for bronchitis will differ, as well as the treatment protocol. As such, it’s important to get properly diagnosed before seeking treatment for your bronchitis. It is also possible to develop bronchitis as a result of lung disease.

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Bronchitis Types

There are three types of bronchitis that a person can be afflicted with, and it helps to understand the differences between each one so that you know not only what you are dealing with but also what to expect and how serious the situation is.

Acute Bronchitis

Acute bronchitis is the most common type of bronchitis and can be caused by a virus, the most common, or bacterial infection. In both cases, the bronchial tubes become inflamed, and the person usually develops a severe cough and produces sputum. The sputum from viral bronchitis is typically clear, whereas bacterial bronchitis is yellow or green.

Chronic Bronchitis

Chronic bronchitis is the more severe form of bronchitis and usually stems from lung damage or disease that causes permanent inflammation of the bronchial tubes. Chronic bronchitis symptoms are similar to acute bronchitis, only different in that they can come and go as episodic attacks rather than an illness that gradually gets better. It’s important to note that a person with chronic bronchitis can still get acute bronchitis if infected by the virus or bacteria.

Asthmatic Bronchitis

Asthmatic bronchitis is a form of bronchitis that behaves like asthma in that the airways swell, cutting off oxygen to parts of the body. It is similar to an asthma attack in how it functions, but it is brought on by a respiratory infection. This can be a very serious form of bronchitis, but it is possible to manage it through medication.

Is Bronchitis Contagious?

No, bronchitis itself is not contagious. However, the virus that causes bronchitis can be contagious for several days after the onset of symptoms. Bacterial bronchitis can also be transmitted to another person until the patient starts taking antibiotics, at which point they stop becoming contagious within about 24 hours. Other causes of bronchitis, such as lung disease, are not contagious.

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Bronchitis Medications

Four types of medications may be used to treat bronchitis, depending on the type: bronchodilators, steroids, antibiotics, and mucolytics.

  • Bronchodilators and steroids are used to fight the inflammation in the bronchial tubes and open up the airway for patients to be able to breathe better. Steroids help with inflammation in the airway and lungs, while bronchodilators force open the bronchial tubes that typically become swollen.
  • Mucolytics help with breaking up and dispersing mucus. Mucus builds in the lungs and can make it harder to breathe, which is part of what makes bronchitis so severe. The mucolytics work to move the mucus out of the lungs, effectively making the patient cough it up.
  • Antibiotics are typically used to treat cases of bacterial bronchitis. The purpose of antibiotics is to kill the bacteria causing the infection and slow the growth of new bacteria.

Most Effective Bronchitis Medications

There is no standardized treatment for acute bronchitis, but in many cases, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics like Zithromax (azithromycin) for bacterial bronchitis to help destroy bacteria. Doctors may also suggest a bronchodilator such as Albuterol (ProAir) to treat lung inflammation.

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For the management of pain, fever, and cough, doctors typically recommend over-the-counter medication such as Tylenol (ibuprofen) and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, as well as any generic cough suppressant.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Bronchitis Medication

While it may be tempting to self-medicate if you have bronchitis, particularly if you’ve had it before, it is always best to speak with a doctor first before taking any medication to avoid potential reactions with any prescriptions you may be taking.

Several factors determine the type of medication best for bronchitis, such as age, medical history, allergies, and pregnancy.

Those with allergies to certain medications should avoid bronchodilators as they can exacerbate some breathing conditions. Pregnant women should consult a doctor before taking steroids and certain other medications to avoid complications. Most people are fine treating pain and fever with over-the-counter medications like NSAIDS, but if you experience severe breathing trouble or have a history of asthma or lung disease, your doctor may need to prescribe additional medication.

Children and elderly patients are more susceptible to bronchitis and may need prolonged care or advanced treatment.

Bronchitis Medication Side Effects

As with any type of medication, there is a certain risk of side effects.

Bronchodilators have the risk of potential allergies, as well as dizziness, fatigue, lightheadedness, and fainting. Steroids should not be used for long periods in patients with bronchitis as they risk developing pneumonia. Additionally, inhaled steroids can cause sores in the mouth and throat or possible infection.

Lastly, antibiotics should not be taken longer than prescribed as they can stop working and cause antibiotic resistance. Always check with your doctor and take medication only as prescribed. If you do experience side effects while taking bronchitis medication, discontinue use and speak with your doctor immediately. Sometimes, a simple dosage change is enough to control side effects, but it is always best to speak with your doctor as soon as possible.


Bronchitis is a serious illness that can affect young and old. There are many ways to treat bronchitis, but the medication used will depend on the type of bronchitis the patient has and their age, medical history, and other factors.

Bronchitis usually only lasts a few weeks, and symptoms can be managed with over-the-counter medication unless complications arise. Before starting any type of treatment, it is best to see your doctor and confirm the diagnosis.

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