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- Treatment Overview
Bronchitis Treatment Overview
First steps to consider
- Mild to moderate viral bronchitis can often be treated at home.
- You can try at-home strategies and OTC cough medicines or lozenges.
When you may need a provider
- You have a fever (above 100.4 F), your cough is hard to control, or you’re coughing up a lot of thick mucus or blood. You may have bacterial bronchitis, which needs antibiotics.
- You are wheezing.
Call 911 or go to the ER if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Serious breathing problems or wheezing
- Racing heart
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When to see a healthcare provider
You should see a doctor for bronchitis if you have a fever (above 100.4 F), your cough is hard to control, or you’re coughing up a lot of thick mucus or blood. Any of these may be a sign of bacterial bronchitis and you will need to take antibiotics to treat it. Your symptoms should start to improve within 1–3 days of being on antibiotics.
If wheezing is an issue, call a doctor, who may want to prescribe an inhaler. Sometimes the cough is so bad that a prescription cough suppressant may be needed. Your doctor may also want to test you for COVID.
What medicine is best for bronchitis?
- If your doctor thinks you have bronchitis caused by a bacterial infection, they will prescribe an antibiotic like azithromycin (Z-pack).
- Wheezing can be treated with a prescription inhaler (albuterol).
- You may also be prescribed an oral steroid like prednisone to reduce inflammation.
- If your cough is not controlled by OTC cough medicines, your doctor may give you a prescription cough medicine, such as benzonatate (Tessalon) or dextromethorphan.
Types of bronchitis providers
- A primary care provider can treat your bronchitis.
How to treat bronchitis at home
Most bronchitis is caused by a virus. It has to go away on its own with time—you won’t be prescribed an antibiotic. Bronchitis treatment consists of just trying to reduce your coughing, with OTC cough medicines and home remedies like drinking warm fluids and using a humidifier in your home.
Cough medicines include suppressants and expectorants. Cough medicines may not get rid of your cough completely. They are not recommended for young children.
Over-the-counter medicine for bronchitis
- Cough suppressant (dextromethorphan) like Delsym
- Expectorants (guaifenesin) like Mucinex loosen mucus.
Bronchitis home remedies
- Have warm fluids like tea, soup, etc.
- Set up a humidifier in the bedroom or try steam from a hot shower.
- Drink liquids often. Children should have frequent, small amounts.
- Eat honey (not for children under 1 year old).
- Try cough lozenges. Do not give to children or the elderly because of choking risk.
- Get plenty of rest.