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Avoid taking antibiotics for acute bronchitis

GEHA | February 20, 2019

Depending on the type of illness, antibiotics can cause more harm than good.

A cough, soreness in your chest, feeling tired – these are symptoms of acute bronchitis. Bronchitis occurs when the airways of the lungs swell and produce mucus. That’s what makes you cough. Acute bronchitis, often called a “chest cold,” is the most common type of bronchitis. The symptoms last less than three weeks. “Acute” means a sudden and severe onset or attack. (By contrast, a “chronic” condition is long-developing.)

To feel better:
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Use a humidifier or cool mist vaporizer
  • Use lozenges
  • Use over-the-counter medicines such as antihistamines, decongestants or cough medicine
Acute bronchitis is usually caused by a virus and often occurs after an upper respiratory infection. Bacteria can sometimes cause acute bronchitis. In both kinds, the use of antibiotics is not recommended and will not help you get better

Symptoms of acute bronchitis include:
  • Chest soreness
  • Coughing
  • Feeling tired
  • Mild body aches
  • Mild headache
  • Sore throat
  • Watery eyes

Always use over-the-counter medicines as directed, and do not give them or lozenges to children younger than four years old unless specifically instructed to do so by your doctor.

Using antibiotics when they aren’t needed can do more harm than good. Antibiotic side effects include rash and diarrhea. Acute bronchitis almost always gets better on its own.

“Bronchitis.”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID), Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion (DHQP), 7 April 2017.