Cold is a common problem, especially during the time when we transition from one season to another. Add to that the fact that the air quality all over the world is also getting poorer and poorer, and you’ll realize that we are all subject to more health complications. If you are wondering whether or not can a cold turn into bronchitis, then we’ve got you covered.
In this article, you will learn what bronchitis is, how to differentiate a common cold from bronchitis, the common causes and symptoms associated with it, and when to see a doctor.
What Is Bronchitis?
Bronchitis is a condition in which the air tubes or air passages within the body that are used by the respiratory system to carry air to the lungs get swollen, inflamed, or irritated. These air passages or tubes are called bronchial tubes. Hence, the term “bronchitis”.
There are also other people who call bronchitis “chest cold”. This is because of the fact that it is usually mistaken for the common cold. Common colds can be treated using home-based remedies. Bronchitis, however, almost always requires a visit to the doctor’s office.
How to Differentiate Common Cold from Bronchitis
A cough is a common symptom for both cold and bronchitis as in both cases, our body tries to push the mucus out of the system. However, there is one difference.
A cough caused by cold remains for three to four days, which is a natural cycle for a common cold. On the other hand, if it persists beyond four days, this is an indication that your cold has now turned into bronchitis.
Other symptoms of bronchitis include:
- When suffering from cold, you don’t feel lazy, but when the cold converts into bronchitis, you start feeling laziness and lack of energy.
- With cold, you don’t suffer from fever, but with bronchitis, you can have a mild fever.
- The frequency of cough increases when the common cold converts into a chest cold, as well as the amount of mucus it produces
- You will start producing a wheezing sound while breathing.
Can a Cold Turn Into Bronchitis?
To address this question quickly, the answer is yes. But then again, there is more to it than just that. You don’t automatically get bronchitis if you have the common cold. What you should do is watch out for symptoms that are known to be associated with bronchitis.
Also, if a common cold does not get better after four days, then there is a huge probability that you do have it, and you should visit your primary care physician right away.
Are You Suffering from Bronchitis?
So how do you know if you are suffering from bronchitis?
Well, to put simply, you start to cough more. This is when you know your cold has turned into bronchitis, as the cold air probably caused your air tubes to swell. When this happens, the tubes start to create mucus, and your body tries to get rid of this newly created cough.
If you are lucky, you will get acute bronchitis, which is not severe and gets better in two weeks with proper care and basic treatment. You can even use some home remedies like inhaling steam, using steam inhalers, humidifiers, or essential oils.
The other severe type of bronchitis is chronic bronchitis, which happens mostly in people who smoke. This is because, with smokers, the tubes take a longer time to heal, and the problem often keeps coming back.
For example, if you are suffering from a cough with mucus for at least three months after regular interval of times within two years time period, there is a high probability you are suffering from chronic bronchitis.
What Are the Common Causes of Bronchitis?
Let’s first learn about the common bronchitis causes:
- The common cause of the bronchitis is a virus, which is often the same virus that causes cold. For example, in most cases, the flu or cold converts into bronchitis after three to four days if not treated well and if the virus spread to the air passage.
In most cases, the virus causes an infection in the nose and the sinuses, which then spreads gradually to the throat, and then further down to the air passage. It is when the body starts to fight the infection and causes inflammation in the process.
- In a very rare case, bacteria can also cause acute bronchitis. This means that it is very rare that you would need to take antibiotics to treat bronchitis. However, a lot of people use antibiotics for bronchitis even when it is viral. Now, this may help you get better, but it is not good for health in the long run.
- In addition, acute bronchitis can also be caused by other factors that can irritate the passage of air to the lungs. This is why the risk of bronchitis is higher among people who smoke as well as people living in urban centers with a comparatively higher level of air pollution.
When to See a Doctor
Acute bronchitis improves after 10 days and mostly within two weeks. It has no lasting effect on your health. However, you may suffer from a cough for a few additional days even after the infection is gone.
Home remedies can work to address bronchitis. These include breathing in steam and use of herbal supplements that can relieve the stress on your air passages. On the other hand, the need for a visit to the doctor depends on your immune system.
In the case of kids, it is better to consult a doctor right away as the immune system is not yet strong enough. Similarly, if adults are suffering from other illness as well, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, there is a risk of acute bronchitis converting into a more severe condition, like pneumonia.
So, can a cold turn into bronchitis? Absolutely yes. In fact, it is caused mostly by the same virus that causes cold, as it spreads from the air passage down to our lungs.
Luckily, acute bronchitis, which is the most common type, can be treated with home remedies and can improve within two weeks. You will suffer from mild fever, more cough, and some laziness, but it will improve in a few days.
All in all, even when bronchitis can be treated with some home remedies, it is better to consult a doctor especially for kids or adults with weakened immune systems.