Most people DO NOT need antibiotics for acute bronchitis. The infection will almost always go away on its own within 1 week. Doing these things may help you feel better:
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- If you have asthma or another chronic lung condition, use your inhaler.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Take aspirin or acetaminophen (Tylenol and other brands) if you have a fever. Do not give aspirin to children.
- Use a humidifier or steam in the bathroom.
Certain medicines that you can buy without a prescription can help break up or loosen mucus. Look for the word "guaifenesin" on the label. Ask the pharmacist if you need help finding it.
If your symptoms do not improve or if you are wheezing, your doctor may prescribe an inhaler to open your airways.
If your doctor thinks you also have bacteria in your airways, he or she may prescribe antibiotics. This medicine will only get rid of bacteria, not viruses. A bacterial infection is more common if you also have a chronic lung disease like COPD.
Sometimes, bacteria may infect the airways along with the virus. If your doctor thinks this has happened, you may be prescribed antibiotics. Sometimes, corticosteroid medicine is also needed to reduce inflammation in the lungs.
Other tips include:
- Do not smoke.
- Avoid secondhand smoke and air pollution.
- Wash your hands (and your children's hands) often to avoid spreading viruses and other germs.