Bronchitis is a common respiratory illness, and it can lead to worse things, like pneumonia, when left untreated or not treated quickly. But, why?
Our AFC Urgent Care Cleveland team provides some helpful information about bronchitis below, so read on!
What Actually Is Bronchitis?
Bronchitis is when the bronchioles, the air-carrying tubes in the lungs, become infected and make too much mucus. Additionally, there are two types of bronchitis: chronic and acute.
Chronic bronchitis is a long-term inflammation of the bronchioles, and acute bronchitis is a short-term inflammation of the bronchioles. Chronic bronchitis is often caused by smoking cigarettes and isn’t usually contagious, but acute bronchitis, on the other hand, is usually caused by a virus (like influenza) and can happen at any time. We’ve listed some ways you can lower your risk of developing bronchitis below as we approach flu season.
Ways to Prevent Bronchitis
- Avoid being in close contact with anyone who’s sick.
- Avoid sharing glasses or utensils with someone who has bronchitis, a cold or the flu.
- Don’t touch used tissue, since viruses that cause bronchitis can be spread through mucus.
- Get the flu shot annually.
- Wash your hands often in warm, soapy water.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with dirty hands.
How Likely Is It to Get Pneumonia?
While bronchitis is an infection of the airways that lead to the lungs, pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. If bronchitis is left untreated, the infection can travel from the airways into the lungs, which can lead to pneumonia.
It’s possible for any bout of bronchitis to turn into pneumonia, but those with a weakened immune system have a greater risk. We’ve listed those who have an increased risk of developing pneumonia after bronchitis below.
Those With a Greater Pneumonia Risk
- Are under the age of 2 or over the age of 65
- Have had a stroke
- Have difficulty swallowing
- Have asthma, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, heart failure or other chronic medical conditions
- Have very limited mobility
- Are taking medications that affect the immune system
- Are receiving treatment or therapy for cancer
- Smoke or take certain illicit drugs
- Drink alcohol to excess
Think you may have bronchitis? Don’t hesitate to visit our AFC Urgent Care Cleveland center to get the treatment you need!