What Goes Around, Comes Around
Bronchitis spreads like wildfire across campus
Published: Friday, December 6, 2013
Updated: Friday, December 6, 2013 00:12
Have you been hearing a lot of coughing on campus lately? Most likely, it is caused by the common chest cold, otherwise known as bronchitis. According to Dr. JoAnna Sol¬hjem, a nurse practitioner for the Student Health Service on campus, bronchitis ap¬pears to be going around.
“I have seen numerous students come in with the same symptoms,” Dr. Solhjem said.
As stated on the Centers for Disease Con¬trol and Prevention (CDC) website, bronchi¬tis is a condition that occurs when the bron¬chial tubes in the lungs become inflamed. When these tubes become swollen, it causes a person to cough because those tubes are what carry air to and from a person’s lungs.
There are two types of bronchitis— chronic and acute. Chronic bronchitis lasts a long time and is more common among smok¬ers. Symptoms of chronic bronchitis, such as a severe cough, can last anywhere between three months to two years. The more com¬monly found type, acute bronchitis, only lasts approximately two to eight weeks.
Also affirmed on the CDC website, there are several causes of bronchitis. Viruses, such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), adenovirus, influenza and parainfluenza, bacteria (in rare cases) and pollutants can all cause bronchitis.
According to the Mayo Clinic website, acute bronchitis often develops from a cold or other respiratory infection. Some symp¬toms of acute bronchitis include a cough, production of mucus, chest discomfort, fa¬tigue, mild headache, mild body aches, low-grade fever, watery eyes and sore throat.
It is important to see a healthcare pro¬vider if a person has a cough that lasts more than three weeks, prevents a person from sleeping, is accompanied by a fever over 100.4 degrees, produces discolored mucus, produces blood, or is associated with wheez¬ing or shortness of breath. If you are experi¬encing any of these symptoms, it is impor¬tant to see your doctor.
Since it is fairly difficult to distinguish bronchitis from the common cold, a doctor may use a stethoscope to listen closely to a person’s lungs as they breathe. This helps them to differentiate between the two.
Once it is confirmed that a person has bronchitis, a doctor may prescribe some medications and self-care treatments such as getting more rest, drinking lots of fluids and breathing in warm, moist air.
Due to the fact that bronchitis usually results from a viral infection, antibiotics are ineffective. This means that other forms of medications are used instead.
When I went to see Dr. Solhjem two weeks ago and was diagnosed as having bronchitis, she prescribed me with a cough syrup that has codeine in it to suppress my cough, a Proair HFA inhaler to help open my airways and prednisone as an anti-inflamma¬tory to reduce the swelling of my bronchial tubes.
After taking all three medications for one week, I was as good as new. I do still have a slight lingering cough, but this is normal. If I had not gone in to see the doctor when I did, my acute bronchitis could have turned into chronic bronchitis. This just goes to show you that seeking medical help is very important.
After reading this article, and you think that you may have bronchitis, go visit Dr. Solhjem. She will be more than happy to help relieve that annoying cough, and help make you better just in time for finals!