Coughs from different illnesses have specific sounds that can help make a diagnosis. Learn about the sounds of a bronchitis cough.
When a healthcare professional works to diagnose a respiratory illness, one of the first steps they might take is to use a stethoscope to listen to your lung sounds and ask you to cough.
A cough is a powerful diagnostic tool that can offer clues about the cause of a particular infection. Respiratory illnesses produce different coughs. A cough sound from bronchitis can vary, depending on whether your bronchitis is acute, chronic, or bacterial.
This article explores the types of coughs you could expect due to different types of bronchitis and how doctors treat them.
Cough sounds can often
Acute bronchitis is one of the most common respiratory infections, and a virus usually causes it. Bacterial infections can also cause acute bronchitis, but those infections are much less common.
An acute bronchitis cough usually begins as a dry cough but can progress to a wetter-sounding productive cough. A productive cough means you bring up mucus or phlegm with each cough. During the infection, this mucus varies in color, from white to yellow or even green.
During periods of severe inflammation, your airways narrow, and this can produce a wheezing or high pitched sound in your cough or lungs. Rhonchi, or a deep rattling sound similar to a snore, indicates fluid or mucus accumulation in your airways.
When to contact a doctor for a cough
- shortness of breath
- a cough that lasts for 8 weeks or longer
- a high fever
- a loud wheezing sound when you breathe
- blood appearing in mucus you cough up
If you have difficulty breathing to the point that you can’t speak a full sentence comfortably, get immediate medical care at the emergency department or by calling 911.
Many cases of bronchitis occur due to common respiratory viruses like influenza. Currently, no medication can cure viral infections, but your healthcare professional can guide you on treatments to ease your symptoms as your body clears out its infection.
A doctor may prescribe antibiotics if your bronchitis occurs from a bacterial infection, but this is a less common type of bronchitis.
When you develop complications from bronchitis or have chronic bronchitis, your healthcare professional may prescribe you additional
- clear your airways
- ease coughing
- relieve shortness of breath
- expand your lungs
The medications a doctor may prescribe can include:
- cough suppressants
- expectorants to help move mucus out of your lungs
- steroids to help reduce inflammation and open your airways
Chronic bronchitis from COPD may also require the use of treatments like:
- pulmonary rehabilitation
- inhaled medications
- supplemental oxygen
- drinking hot tea with honey
- using a humidifier to add moisture to the air you breathe
- taking throat lozenges or over-the-counter (OTC) cold medications
Be careful when taking OTC cold medications. Taking cough suppressants in moderation is important since bronchitis can ultimately clear up better the faster you can cough out the mucus collecting in your bronchial tubes.
Too much suppression of your natural cough could
It’s common for various viral coughs to last a few weeks. Many people with acute bronchitis recover in a few
People with other medical conditions or a weakened immune system could develop other complications as bronchitis clears, such as pneumonia or a secondary bacterial infection. Talk with your healthcare professional if you don’t feel better after about
Chronic bronchitis, on the other hand, is usually a lifelong condition. It may affect your overall quality of life, depending on:
- your bronchitis severity
- how bronchitis affects the airflow through your lungs
- the steps you take to prevent it from worsening
But the following may help slow chronic bronchitis progression or reduce flare-ups:
- quitting or reducing smoking, if you smoke
- avoiding infections
- reducing exposure to air pollution
Lung sounds can also help doctors make a diagnosis. Bronchial lung sounds are typically at a
Your doctor may also hear a deep rattling or coarse sound called rhonchi with COPD and chronic bronchitis.
Can bronchitis be cured?
Bronchitis usually results from a virus and can clear out with or without treatment. You can take OTC medications — and sometimes even prescription treatments — to help ease your cough, but time can often be the most effective cure for a cough from acute viral bronchitis.
Can I have bronchitis without a cough?
It’s possible to have varying degrees of a cough from bronchitis, and you might not always cough up mucus. Still, a cough is a common symptom of bronchitis, and less coughing may mean you’re taking too many cough suppressants.
It’s important to allow yourself to cough out the mucus collecting in your bronchial tubes, which can help you recover from acute bronchitis.
Will a cough be my only symptom?
Bronchitis often appears with a cough, but
- pain with breathing
- nasal congestion
Bronchitis is a condition that develops from a viral or bacterial infection or an ongoing respiratory condition like COPD. A dry-sounding but productive cough from acute bronchitis is common and usually lasts a few weeks.
Your bronchitis cough could last longer from chronic bronchitis. Contact your healthcare professional for additional diagnosis and treatment if your cough becomes so severe you can’t breathe or it lasts for more than 2 months.