How to Manage Persistent Cough in Bronchitis

Image of a Woman Coughing Hard and the text

What Is a Bronchitis Cough Like?

A bronchitis cough sounds like a rattle with a wheezing or whistling sound. As your condition progresses, you will first have a dry cough that can then progress towards coughing up white mucus. If you have a bacterial infection or your airways become irritated and swollen, the color of your mucus changes from white to green or yellow. Sometimes, you might cough up phlegm and have a fever. 

What Can Cause Bronchitis Coughing?

Bronchitis occurs when your bronchial tubes become swollen and inflamed.  After becoming inflamed and swollen, the lung’s large and medium airways get filled with thick mucus. As this thickened mucus becomes hard to clear from the airways, you begin coughing to get the mucus out of your lungs.

While it’s a natural and needed symptom that helps you get rid of the mucus during bronchitis, too much coughing or uncontrolled coughing can lead to various problems, such as throat pain, abdomen pain, or blood-streaked sputum (phlegm). In rare cases, it could lead to more serious conditions, like pneumonia.

How Long Does Bronchitis Coughing  Last?

Bronchitis coughing duration varies depending on the type of bronchitis you have. In acute bronchitis, symptoms may subside after a week to 10 days, but you may have a cough that lasts for several weeks. Acute bronchitis primarily develops after you have had a bacterial or viral infection. However, other irritants such as fumes, smoke, or dust can also cause acute bronchitis.

Repeated attacks of acute bronchitis cause chronic bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis causes a productive cough, which lasts at least three months with the possibility of recurring for at least two consecutive years. Smoking is the primary cause of chronic bronchitis. 

Tips to Control Frequent Coughing During Bronchitis

Coughing is a major sign of bronchitis. It can be unproductive or productive, depending on the type and severity of the condition. However, you can ease your cough and feel better with these bronchitis cough relief tips:

1. Have a Proper Diet

Having a proper diet will help your bronchitis coughing, so be sure to eat plenty of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, chicken, fish, and low-fat or non-fat dairy. Drinking water at least 12 glasses a day can help thin out the mucus. Drinking hot tea with honey or honey with lemon water may also reduce irritation, soothe your throat, and loosen the mucus.

However, if you have kidney or heart problems, be sure to first visit your doctor for any diet recommendations.

2. Quit Smoking and Avoid Similar Irritants

Quitting smoking may help decrease long-term coughing. Try avoiding dust, fumes, smoke from other people, and other irritants that bother your lungs. Wear a mask if you cannot avoid exposure to these irritants.

3. Get Plenty of Rest

Your body needs plenty of energy to fight the virus, so be sure to rest as much as possible.  Not resting may cause stress and make your cough worse.

4. Breathe in Steam

Steam and moisture can help your cough by relieving your dry throat and loosening up the mucus. Try breathing in steam from a bowl of hot water or use a humidifier or vaporizer in your room to create more moisture in the air.

5. Gargle with Salt Water

Gargling with warm salt water can ease an irritated or sore throat and remove mucus from the back of the throat. Doing this before going to bed may help calm your cough.

When to See a Doctor for Bronchitis Cough

You should visit your doctor if you can’t control bronchitis coughing or if you experience these symptoms:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fever more than 38.3°C or 104.9°F
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing for more than a week
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing up blood

Your doctor may prescribe cough suppressants or antibiotics that can ease your cough and loosen up mucus.

Some Frequently Asked Questions About Bronchitis Cough

1. How Can You Ease Bronchitis Coughing at Night?

Cold air and dust mites can trigger or worsen your cough. Use a humidifier at night to ease your bronchitis coughing. A humidifier can increase your bedroom’s air quality and keep the dust mites out of your room.

2. Can Excessive Bronchitis Coughing Cause Injury to the Diaphragm or Damage the Larynx?

Excessive coughing in bronchitis can strain your rib muscles and cause chest pain, but not diaphragm pain.

If you cough or try to clear your throat a lot, your vocal cords may smell, leading to a condition called laryngitis. This should be treated quickly to avoid any long-term damage to the larynx.

3. How Long Do You Cough Up Phlegm with Bronchitis?

Bronchitis may start with a dry cough. After a few days, you can cough up phlegm, which may last for two to four weeks or even more depending on your condition.

4. Does Honey Really Soothe Your Coughing Symptoms in Bronchitis? How?

Coughing can be reduced by taking 2 teaspoons of honey before going to bed. Honey increases saliva production, which can reduce inflammation in your bronchial tubes and ease your cough by lubricating your airways.

5. What Should I Do If My Coughing Lingers Even After Other Bronchitis Symptoms Have Receded?

A persistent cough may be a sign of chronic bronchitis. You should visit your doctor if your cough is severe, contains blood, and lasts more than three weeks.

Related Post: Signs of Acute Bronchitis & How to Heal It

Acute Bronchitis

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Brian Coyne

Brian Coyne, MD. Dr. Coyne is a board certified family practice physician serves fpr Family Care Centers - Fountain Valley. He completed his undergraduate degree at UCLA before earning his medical degree at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Dr. Coyne spent 6 years in the US Air Force at Andrews and Luke Air force at Andrews and Luke Air Force bases, eventually separating as a Major. He enjoys working with patients of all ages.

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