What are the Symptoms of Bronchitis in Adults?

Bronchitis occurs when the bronchial tubes become inflamed or irritated. The symptoms of bronchitis in adults usually include cough, chest pain, fatigue and headache. Body aches and pains, low grade fever, watery eyes and a sore throat can also accompany bronchitis. A person with bronchitis, however, may have all or only a few of these symptoms.
There are two types of bronchitis — acute bronchitis and chronic bronchitis. Acute bronchitis is caused by bacteria or viruses that inflame the large bronchi. It typically lasts for two to three weeks. Chronic bronchitis is the persistent inflammation of the bronchi characterized by a recurrent cough that produces phlegm and mucus, for at least three months, two years in a row. Chronic bronchitis is most prevalent in people who smoke.
Symptoms of both acute and chronic bronchitis in adults include a nagging cough that may produce phlegm that is clear, white, green or a yellow-gray color. Other symptoms include tiredness and low grade fever. Shortness of breath, wheezing and chest pain may also occur. It is possible for a person with bronchitis to experience only one or two and not all of the symptoms. In addition to these symptoms, chronic bronchitis sufferers may also experience a persistent cough that is usually worse in the mornings or in damp weather.
Treating bronchitis in adults can help to relieve the symptoms. Recommended treatment usually includes drinking plenty of fluids, getting enough rest, stopping smoking and taking aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce fever and relieve pain. Breathing steam from a humidifier or hot shower can help make the cough more productive and over-the-counter cough suppressants may help to stop coughing, allowing the affected person to sleep. Expectorant cough medicines containing guaifenesin will help to loosen the cough, making it more productive and helping to expel the mucus from the body. A doctor may prescribe prescription medications such as antibiotics or prescription strength cough medicine.
Doctors diagnose bronchitis in adults by evaluating the patients symptoms and listening to their chest with a stethoscope. In some cases a doctor may request a sample of coughed up mucus to be tested for bacteria. An x-ray is usually taken to rule out pneumonia rather than to confirm bronchitis.
Symptoms of bronchitis in children are the same as the symptoms of bronchitis in adults, and non-medical treatment to relieve the symptoms is also the same. Medicinal treatment, however, is different. It is not recommended to give children under the age of four-over-the-counter cough medication of any kind, unless advised to do so by your pediatrician.