Bronchitis Treatment Online

Bronchitis is not a specific disease; rather, it is a general term for an inflammation of the bronchial tubes.


Bronchitis symptoms can vary, but patients typically experience:

  • Tightness in the chest
  • Difficulty breathing or persistent wheezing
  • Chest congestion
  • A cough accompanied by thick mucus or phlegm
  • And more.

Diagnosing and Treating Bronchitis Online

Bronchitis is a fairly common condition for which patients log on to Amwell and see a doctor. There are two types of bronchitis: acute and chronic. Acute bronchitis sets in quickly and usually lasts for two to three weeks, whereas chronic bronchitis causes recurring symptoms that can last for several weeks or months.  Bronchitis is not contagious, however, the disease that causes the bronchitis symptoms may be. Since bronchitis is usually caused by a virus, antibiotics are generally not helpful and are not frequently prescribed. However, a doctor can make a treatment plan including other over-the-counter and prescription medications to help you feel better. 

During a video consult on Amwell your doctor will ask you a series of targeted questions to determine if your symptoms point to bronchitis. Then your provider will proceed to determine the best treatment plan for you. Your provider may recommend in-person examination by a specialist if this is needed. Your treatment plan is based on the duration and severity of your symptoms and your medical history.

Once a diagnosis has been made, your doctor will go over the risks and benefits of the various treatment plans. Depending on the cause and severity of the illness, your treatment plan for bronchitis may include:

  • Over the counter (OTC) medication to relieve cough symptoms
  • Home remedies that help with coughing and relieve discomfort

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Ask the Doctor About Bronchitis

Video Transcript

Cough is one of the most common conditions we see online, and let's face it we all know how annoying a cough can be. Cough is often the last symptom to go away following a common cold and many people don't realize that their cold and cough can last for up to 14 to 21 days. Bronchitis is an inflammation of the upper airways and is often in most healthy people a viral condition this means it won't respond to antibiotics. The doctors at American Well, with the assistance of your mobile device or desktop can help make an accurate diagnosis of your cough. We can ask that you bring the camera on your phone up to your mouth so we can assess the back of your throat and make sure there is no other reason for that cough. Through the use of deep breathing maneuvers we can assess the quality of your cough and make sure that there is nothing else going on. Once we come up with a treatment plan that is customized for you, we ask that if you're not responding to the treatment within about 3 days to follow up with your primary care physician or with your online care doctor.

Got Questions? We’ve Got Answers.

See below for answers to some of our most common questions. You can also call us anytime 24 hours a day at 1‑844‑SEE‑DOCS for questions about our services or to speak to a doctor about your symptoms or conditions.

  • What is the difference between bronchitis and pneumonia?

    Bronchitis is a swelling of the bronchi, the airways that lead to your lungs. The most common symptoms are coughing and mucus, but you may also have wheezing, shortness of breath, chest pain, and a slight fever. Bronchitis is usually caused by cold or flu viruses, but occasionally a bacterial infection may be the culprit. Acute (short-term) bronchitis usually goes away on its own, without medicine.

    Pneumonia is when the small air sacs within your lungs, called alveoli, fill up with fluid or pus due to an infection. The infection can occur in one or both lungs and can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or even fungi. Symptoms of pneumonia include coughing (with or without mucus), chills, fever, and difficulty breathing. Pneumonia may be treated with antibiotics or antiviral or antifungal medications, depending on the cause.

    If you have symptoms common to both of these conditions, your doctor may order a chest X-ray to diagnose — or rule out — pneumonia.

  • What is the difference between acute and chronic bronchitis?

    Acute bronchitis is very common, while chronic bronchitis is a more serious condition. Chronic bronchitis is a constant irritation or inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes and happens more frequently in smokers. Duration of the cough in a chronic case can last upwards of 3 weeks, in many cases. So support and home remedies are key.

  • Are there any natural remedies for bronchitis?

    Some studies have suggested that Pelargonium lessens the severity of bronchitis and cuts the duration by two days on average. This is a natural herb from the South African Geranium, "umcka" is the local name for the cough reducing plant. This product comes in lozenges and liquid and is available in many local pharmacies and on Amazon.

    Another natural remedy which is great for kids is honey. Honey is a temporary fix that works as a cough suppressant and typically helps cover up that tickly feeling.

  • How long does bronchitis last?

    Acute bronchitis usually improves within a few days without lasting effects, although you may continue to cough for weeks. If you experience repeated instances of bronchitis you could have chronic bronchitis, which requires medical attention and can last much longer.

  • Is bronchitis contagious?

    It depends on which type of bronchitis you have. Chronic bronchitis — which is typically caused by constant lung irritation from things like cigarette smoke, air pollution, and dust — isn't contagious. Acute bronchitis, which is usually caused by a virus, is contagious for up to a week (although symptoms may last up to three weeks). Less often, acute bronchitis is caused by a bacterial infection. If your doctor gives you antibiotics for bacterial bronchitis, you typically will stop being contagious 24 hours after you start taking the medication. To avoid catching acute bronchitis, keep your distance from anyone who has the flu or another respiratory illness. Ask the person to cover their nose and mouth when they sneeze or cough. Wash your hands frequently, and avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes.

  • What causes bronchitis?

    Bronchitis, a swelling of the airways in the lungs that causes coughing and mucus, can be either acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term).

    Acute bronchitis is most often caused by a viral infection, such as a cold or flu. Bacteria can also sometimes cause acute bronchitis.

    Chronic bronchitis is most often more common in smokers. However, nonsmokers can also get chronic bronchitis. You may be at higher risk of getting chronic bronchitis if you:

    •       Are older
    •       Have a family history of lung disease
    •       Had respiratory diseases in childhood
    •       Have been exposed to fumes or secondhand smoke
    •       Have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Is bronchitis common in infants?

    Bronchitis, a swelling of the large airways of the lungs (called bronchi) occurs more often in older children and adults.

    What’s more common in babies and younger children is a similar-sounding condition called bronchiolitis. That’s when smaller airways, called bronchioles, become swollen and narrowed, making it difficult for the baby to breathe. Bronchiolitis is most often caused by a viral infection such as a cold or flu. Infants and children under age 2 are most commonly affected because they may not be able to fight off lung infections as well as adults can.

  • What is the treatment plan if my child has bronchitis?

    Acute (short-term) bronchitis usually goes away on its own. Doctors typically don’t prescribe antibiotics for bronchitis unless it’s caused by a bacterial infection, which is more common in children.

    Treatments that may help your child get relief from symptoms include:

    •       Drinking plenty of fluids
    •       Getting rest
    •       Breathing moist air — in the shower or from a humidifier or cool-mist vaporizer
    •       Sucking on lozenges (if they’re age 4 or older)- Honey - safe over age 1

     Before giving your child over-the-counter pain relievers, be sure to read and follow all label directions carefully. Never give aspirin to children. Don’t give ibuprofen to children under 6 months of age.

     Don’t give over-the-counter cough or cold medicines to children under age 4. If your child is 4 or older, talk with your doctor about whether these medicines are safe for them.

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