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Am Fam Physician. 2010 Dec 1;82(11):1345-50.

Diagnosis and treatment of acute bronchitis.

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1
Hartford Hospital, Hartford, CT, USA.

Abstract

Cough is the most common symptom bringing patients to the primary care physician's office, and acute bronchitis is usually the diagnosis in these patients. Acute bronchitis should be differentiated from other common diagnoses, such as pneumonia and asthma, because these conditions may need specific therapies not indicated for bronchitis. Symptoms of bronchitis typically last about three weeks. The presence or absence of colored (e.g., green) sputum does not reliably differentiate between bacterial and viral lower respiratory tract infections. Viruses are responsible for more than 90 percent of acute bronchitis infections. Antibiotics are generally not indicated for bronchitis, and should be used only if pertussis is suspected to reduce transmission or if the patient is at increased risk of developing pneumonia (e.g., patients 65 years or older). The typical therapies for managing acute bronchitis symptoms have been shown to be ineffective, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends against using cough and cold preparations in children younger than six years. The supplement pelargonium may help reduce symptom severity in adults. As patient expectations for antibiotics and therapies for symptom management differ from evidence-based recommendations, effective communication strategies are necessary to provide the safest therapies available while maintaining patient satisfaction.

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PMID:
21121518
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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