Acute Bronchitis

Acute Bronchitis

Acute Bronchitis

Acute bronchitis is one of the top 10 reasons for Americans to visit the doctor. Peak season is Fall and Winter. Symptoms include persistent cough with or without upper respiratory symptoms (sore throat, nasal congestion, headache, increased sputum production, and fever). Most cases are caused by viruses including: influenza, RSV, and adenovirus. Other causes include bacterial infection, smoke or dust allergy or asthma.

A physician's job is to rule out serious causes of acute bronchitis like influenza and pneumonia. These conditions may increase morbidity and mortality especially in the young and old. Therefore, in cases of fever, cough and increased lung congestion (which does not clear with cough), an x-ray and antibiotic may be required. For influenza, anti viral medication is helpful if started within 48 hours. Bacterial pneumonia requires antibiotics.

For simple uncomplicated acute bronchitis, treatment options do not include antibiotics. Overuse of unnecessary antibiotics causes drug resistant bacteria like methicillin resistant staph aureus (MRSA) in the community. Therefore we often suggest any or all of the following:

mucolytics (e.g. MucinexĂ‚® or increasing water intake) anti-tussive cough medicine albuterol inhaler analgesics rest

Since acute bronchitis involves increased mucus production triggered by infection or allergens, one of the goals is to clear secretions. The body naturally does this with the cough reflex. Another method is to use aromatic oils.

In 2003, Hasani studied the effects aromatic oils on lung secretion clearance in chronic bronchitis sufferers. He concluded that direct application of essential oils to the skin helped clear respiratory secretions. Some recommended oils are:

Eucalyptus Peppermint Ravensara

Massage one or two drops into the chest area and dilute with high quality olive or sweet almond oil. Then, apply a warm compress for 15-20 minutes . Repeat several times a day. Use caution with the young and old as the oils may cause a rash so test a small area of skin first before applying to the entire chest.

Expect symptoms of acute bronchitis to last from 1-3 weeks. If you have any questions or difficulties, seek medical help.

Reference: Effect of aromatics on lung mucociliary clearance in patients with chronic airways obstruction. Hasani A et. al., J Altern Complement Med. 2003 Apr;9(2):243-9