Bronchitis is a tough thing to shrug off. With the advancement in modern medicine though, various treatments are readily available—one of which is the use of antibiotics. Then again, many cannot help but wonder how long does bronchitis last after starting antibiotics.
Today, we will seek to answer that very question. However, before we can do so, we must first find out two things: what exactly is this somewhat common respiratory problem and how does an antibiotic treatment interact with it.
What is Bronchitis?
As stated above, bronchitis is a pretty common respiratory affection. While it is not as common as the flu, it is estimated that around 5% of adults and 6% of children are affected each year by this inflammatory disease. When a person suffers from bronchitis, he or she will have trouble breathing and produce a lot of mucus when coughing.
From those symptoms, we can say that bronchitis causes a negative impact on the everyday life of an affected person. This also includes how he interacts with his peers as bronchitis is known to be very contagious. Other symptoms are chest discomfort and shortness of breath.
Acute and Chronic Bronchitis
Depending on the severity of the symptoms, bronchitis is divided into two categories: acute and chronic. As usual, the treatment differs depending on the finding. Most of the milder acute cases requiring nothing but rest, while some will need to take paracetamol and anti-inflammatory drugs.
On the other hand, treatment for chronic bronchitis is more complex, often requiring antibiotics and, in some cases, even a lung transplant. For a better understanding of how these two types of bronchitis differ, let us take a closer look at each one below.
- Acute Bronchitis
Acute bronchitis is usually caused by either an extremely cold surrounding or other environmental factors. These can vary from tobacco to dust as well as other air pollutants.
If bronchitis follows a cold, it will manifest a few days after the first symptoms of the cold have surfaced. At first, the cough will be dry. After a few days, mucus will be produced when coughing. Acute bronchitis will only last for around two to three weeks, but a cough might linger afterward.
This type of bronchitis usually occurs during colder seasons, when 90% of the reported cases are associated with a virus. It can be diagnosed using a simple stethoscope, and the treatment is, as stated above, pretty mild.
- Chronic Bronchitis
Chronic bronchitis is caused, in most cases, by smoking or exposure to dangerous gas, the dust found in mine shafts, pesticides used in agriculture, or various harmful cleaning products.
Those who suffer from chronic bronchitis have mucus in their coughs at least six months out of two years. It is a dangerous condition that makes the lungs a perfect host for bacterial infections. For that reason, chronic bronchitis should be treated as soon as possible.
Diagnosis is usually made by doing spirometry, which is a common pulmonary function test. It measures the volume and speed with which one can inhale and exhale gas. Alternatively, X-ray imagery can also be used in diagnosing chronic bronchitis.
Antibiotics and Its Role in Treating Bronchitis
While bronchitis is not usually caused by a bacterial infection, there are also times that this happens. In these certain situations, a physician will prescribe antibiotics for treatment. Antibiotics (or antibacterials) are strong drugs used in treating and preventing bacteria from infecting the body.
Antibiotics have changed modern medicine. Before the discovery of antibiotics, infections were treated very primitively, using mixtures of plants and even molds to try and cure bacterial diseases.
In the 20th century, however, scientists like Alexander Fleming, Ernst Chain, and Howard Florey discovered and produced penicillin G. The medical community instantly recognized the revolutionary effects possessed by antibiotics and have even awarded the three with a Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1945.
Nowadays, antibiotics are widely available and used in many forms of administration and treatments. For bacterial bronchitis, the physician will usually prescribe tablets that are to be administered orally. The dosage depends on the seriousness of the symptoms.
How Long Does Bronchitis Last After Starting Antibiotics?
So, how long does bronchitis last after starting antibiotics? There is no straight answer to this question. As stated above, the dosage and frequency will differ depending on the severity of the case. When the physician issues a prescription treatment, he or she will give a definitive answer.
In most cases, however, a few weeks of daily administrations will be needed to prevent the bacteria from spreading throughout the body. While the symptoms may go away after a few days, it is important to keep taking the doctor-prescribed amount of antibiotics.
Antibiotics will inhibit the bacteria from spreading and even eliminate it completely only if the patient follows through. Interruptions can seriously increase the bacteria’s resistance to the treatment and cause life-threatening implications.
Are Antibiotics Necessary for All Cases of Bronchitis?
The straightforward answer would be, no. Bacterial bronchitis is very uncommon. It is usually caused by either environmental factors or by a virus. In these cases, antibiotics are virtually useless and will only cause harm.
Do not try to self-medicate. While browsing the internet for remedies is very popular, try to refrain from using the leftover tablets in an effort to treat acute or chronic bronchitis. The best thing to do is to see a specialist as soon as the symptoms become evident.
More often than not, plenty of rest and lots of fluids are the answer. The reason behind it is that our bodies are actually capable of fighting off most kinds of inflammatory diseases, but only if you permit it to do its job and allow your body to rest.
A few pills, some herbal tea, and chicken soup can also make an acute case of bronchitis go away in a matter of days. While the initial symptoms will go away rather quickly, the cough does tend to stick.
For any concerns and for your own peace of mind, keep a constant line of communication with a specialist and follow his or her instructions unfailingly.
During the cold season, one can do a number of things to avoid bronchitis altogether. As they say, prevention is always better than the cure. As such, follow these simple rules to lessen your chances of getting infected:
- Get seasonal shots.
- Stay away from crowded areas, like buses or trains.
- Keep some disinfectant handy and clean your hands at least four times a day.
- If sick, avoid spreading the virus to friends and acquaintances.
- Rest properly, take vitamins and supplements.