Table of contents:
- Acute bronchitis
- Whom can I ask?
- How are the costs going to be covered?
Video: Cough And Other Symptoms In Acute Bronchitis
Acute bronchitis is an inflammation of the mucous membrane of the bronchi (airways) or the trachea. It is one of the most common human diseases. Depending on the affected section of the airways, the correct medical name is tracheitis (inflammation of the windpipe), tracheobronchitis (inflammation of the windpipe and bronchi), bronchitis (inflammation of the bronchi) or bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small bronchi, the bronchioles). It usually occurs as a result of a viral infection and lasts on average less than two to three weeks. As a rule, the larger bronchia are mainly affected in acute bronchitis.
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Cough and throat irritation are the most prominent features of acute bronchitis. Other symptoms include:
- Pain behind the sternum when coughing,
- tough expectoration,
- increased slime formation,
- Headache or joint pain,
- possibly unusual breathing noises (whistling or "wheezing").
Those affected usually suffer from a runny nose, hoarseness or sore throat at the same time, as the upper airways are also inflamed.
The triggers of acute bronchitis are diverse: from pathogens to irritants from the environment or the work environment. It is not uncommon for acute bronchitis to occur during a flu illness with the influenza A virus. A flu vaccination is therefore an important preventive measure.
Acute bronchitis can have the following causes:
- Viruses: Especially parainfluenza viruses, respiratory syncytial viruses, adenoviruses, coronaviruses, rhinoviruses, influenza viruses.
- Bacteria: e.g. mycoplasma and chlamydia.
- Irritants: eg dust or gases at the workplace or fine dust pollution.
- Fungi: e.g. thrush bronchitis caused by Candida albicans.
In addition, acute bronchitis also occurs in the context of other diseases, such as measles or whooping cough. If pathogens are the cause, they are usually transmitted by droplet or smear infection.
There are various risk factors that can promote the development of bronchitis, for example smoking, a weakened immune system and the congenital metabolic disease cystic fibrosis.
Labor inspection, AUVA as well as occupational physicians or company doctors provide information about dangers in the workplace.
Information on environmental pollution can be found on the website of the Federal Environment Agency or under Services the current ozone pollution.
An anamnesis (survey of the medical history) provides information about the duration and extent of the complaints. By listening (auscultation) and tapping (percussion) the chest area, the doctor can confirm the suspected diagnosis or initiate further diagnostics. The throat and mouth are also examined. Particularly in the case of more severe forms of acute bronchitis, further examinations are necessary (e.g. lung x-ray or sampling of the sputum).
Since acute bronchitis is usually a self-healing disease, treatment is geared towards relieving symptoms. Physical rest and adequate hydration are the most important measures.
Overview of medication
Anti-fever medication (e.g. paracetamol) can be used in individual cases. However, since these drugs have side effects and can also prolong the course of the disease, they should not be used uncritically. Cough suppressants should also only be taken if everyday life and / or sleep is severely restricted by bronchitis. The cough reflex ultimately also serves to remove pathogens and stuck mucus from the lungs. Inhaled medications that dilate the bronchi (eg sympathomimetics) are only required for spastic bronchitis, in which the airways are narrowed. Antibiotics are only used for bacterial superinfections or individually for chronic comorbidities, a weakened immune system or older, high-fever patients. A therapy with anti-virus agents (antivirals) is only necessary and useful in exceptional cases - e.g. if the immune system is weak. If bronchitis is caused by a fungal infection, antifungal drugs (antifungal agents) are prescribed.
Danger! Medicines - including those without a prescription - should only be used after consulting a doctor or after consulting a pharmacist.
Use home remedies carefully
Home remedies such as cough teas (for example made from ribwort, marshmallow leaves and roots or coltsfoot) are often used. If you would like to carry out inhalations yourself (e.g. with essential oils or salt), talk to your doctor or pharmacist. Some essential oils may not be used, for example, in children, certain types of bronchitis or underlying diseases. In some cases, inhalation of salt can cause bronchial spasms. It is generally advisable to seek professional advice before using “home remedies”. For example, herbal remedies can also have side effects or interactions with drugs. Your doctor or pharmacist can also give you additional tips on how to recover quickly.
When to go to bed
Elderly people in particular should take it easy in the event of acute bronchitis, but nevertheless - depending on their general condition - keep moving and not just lying down. Otherwise complications such as pneumonia or thrombosis can occur.
Bed rest is recommended if you have a high fever. Sport should be avoided in any case in the acute phase of acute bronchitis. Patients with bronchitis should also strictly avoid smoking or passive smoking.
What else to watch out for
A so-called bronchial hyperreactivity (hypersensitivity of the airways) can develop from a viral respiratory tract infection. The cough persists for weeks and asthma-like attacks can also occur. Anti-asthmatic medication can help here.
If inhaled irritant gases are the cause of acute bronchitis, those affected are observed in the hospital for 24 hours as pulmonary edema can occur. In the case of work-related exposure, an occupational physician should be involved in the therapy in order to keep the harmful effects for the employee as low as possible.
Note Acute bronchitis should always be clarified by a doctor, as the symptoms could also be pneumonia or complications could occur. In the former, however, the symptoms are usually more pronounced. In particular, if you have a high fever, accelerated breathing, very yellowish sputum or shortness of breath, medical help must be sought immediately. In the event of acute respiratory distress, the ambulance must be notified immediately. For more information on first aid, see Breathlessness in Adults and Breathlessness in Children. Particular caution is required in patients with previous illnesses, immune deficiencies, the elderly and children.
Whom can I ask?
If you suspect you have bronchitis, you can contact the following for diagnosis and treatment:
- General practitioner
- Specialist in internal medicine
- Specialist in lung diseases
Occupational physicians can also help you. Pediatricians specialize in providing medical care for children and adolescents.
How are the costs going to be covered?
All necessary and appropriate therapies are covered by the health insurance carriers. Your doctor or the outpatient clinic will generally settle accounts directly with your health insurance provider. With certain health insurance providers, however, you may have to pay a deductible (BVAEB, SVS, SVS, BVAEB).
The costs will not be charged directly if you use a doctor of your choice (ie doctor without a health insurance contract) or a private outpatient clinic. In this case, you pay the resulting amount directly to the doctor and submit the invoice to your health insurance company. You will be reimbursed a maximum of 80 percent of the tariff that a contract doctor or a contract outpatient clinic charges the health insurance company.