Bronchitis, RSV, COPD and Pneumonia

There are many different types of respiratory illnesses. The most common include colds and flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), bronchitis, and pneumonia.

A visit with our caring medical staff can help diagnose what’s troubling you. They’ll recommend treatment to help you feel better and, depending on your illness, refer you to any specialized care that may be needed.

What is bronchitis?

Bronchitis occurs when your bronchial tubes, which carry air to your lungs, get infected and swollen. There are two types of bronchitis: acute and chronic. Acute bronchitis is common and is usually onset by a cold or other virus and may remain as a lingering cough for several weeks.

Chronic bronchitis, however, is a constant inflammation of the bronchial tubes, usually caused by smoking. Bronchitis is considered chronic when it lasts at least three months, with recurring bouts of coughing that happen for at least two years in a row.

Symptoms of bronchitis

Symptoms of both acute and chronic bronchitis include:

  • Chest congestion
  • Wheezing
  • Cough
  • Production of mucus when coughing
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Slight fever and chills
  • Sore chest

What is pneumonia?

The symptoms of this lung infection come on slower than the flu but faster than a cold. Pneumonia can be a complication of colds and flu making diagnosis a little more complex. Pneumonia can occur when the germs that cause colds and flu get down into your lungs. Right when you might be feeling better, you could suddenly start getting symptoms again – and now they may be worse.

Symptoms of pneumonia

Symptoms of pneumonia can range from mild to severe. Mild symptoms are similar to cold and flu symptoms, but they last much longer.

With pneumonia your symptoms may be similar to the flu, but also may include:

  • Chest pain.
  • Feeling very tired.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Cough, which may be productive.
  • Fast heartbeat.
  • Fatigue.
  • High fever, sweating, and chills.
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Diagnosing pneumonia

To diagnose pneumonia, our IMC staff will start by asking about your medical history and doing a physical exam, including listening to your lungs with a stethoscope to check for abnormal bubbling or crackling sounds that suggest pneumonia.

If pneumonia is suspected, your Immediate Medical Care professional will likely recommend further testing.

What is respiratory syncytial virus?

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) affects the lungs and respiratory tract. It’s one of the most common causes of lower respiratory tract infections in children, accounting for more than 2 million yearly outpatient visits in kids younger than 5 years old.* In most regions of the United States, RSV usually circulates during fall, winter, and spring, but the timing and severity of RSV season in a given community can vary from year to year.

RSV can spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. You can get infected if you get droplets from the cough or sneeze in your eyes, nose, or mouth, or if you touch a surface that has the virus on it, like a doorknob, and then touch your face before washing your hands. Additionally, it can spread through direct contact with the virus, like kissing the face of a child with RSV.

* Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection (RSV): Trends and Surveillance. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Symptoms of RSV

  • Runny nose
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Cough
  • Low-grade fever
  • Sore throat
  • Mild headache

Most cases of RSV are mild. But, it might mean that your illness is becoming more severe if you notice any of these symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Severe cough
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing

Treating RSV

RSV is generally diagnosed by taking a medical history and performing a physical exam.

You can treat symptoms by:

  • Resting and drinking plenty of fluids.
  • Keeping your child upright as much as possible.
  • Using a humidifier or cool mist vaporizer to keep air moist.
  • Using saline drips or a nasal rinse to ease sinus congestion.
  • Managing pain with ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
  • Staying away from cigarette smoke.

Treatment also may include inhaled medications to help open airways.

Most people will recover from RSV within a couple of weeks, but hospitalization may be necessary depending on age and severity of symptoms.

Someone who is ill is most contagious within the first few days of being infected, but he or she can possibly spread the virus for several weeks after symptoms appear.