How are inhalers used to treat bronchitis?


Inhalers deliver medications that can improve your ability to breathe. For bronchitis, they are usually prescribed only for chronic bronchitis and severe cases of acute bronchitis. Inhalers contain medications that treat bronchitis symptoms in different ways and have different side effects.

Let's look at bronchitis first, and then dive into the various commonly prescribed inhalers for bronchitis.

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What is bronchitis?

During bronchitis, the bronchial tubes , the tubes that lead from the mouth to the lungs, swell and begin to produce a protective mucus that causes a cough. Symptoms of bronchitis include:

  • A cough that keeps you awake at night.
  • Chest pain or constriction from coughing;
  • Sore throat from coughing
  • Persistent fatigue, headaches, and body aches.
  • Subfebrile temperature

There are two main types of bronchitis: acute and chronic. They differ according to the cause of the bronchial edema.

A viral or bacterial infection usually causes acute bronchitis. Your illness will most likely start with a cold that lasts for several days and then progresses to a prolonged cough. The cough should improve about three weeks after the initial cold. Acute bronchitis is also called a cold.

Chronic bronchitis is usually caused by exposure to pollutants or irritants such as tobacco smoke. The condition can get worse over time, so it needs to be treated. It is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Chronic bronchitis is more likely to cause wheezing and wheezing or grinding when you breathe. Although chronic bronchitis itself is not contagious , it can cause frequent colds, flu, and other respiratory illnesses that can be passed on to other people.


If you think you have acute bronchitis due to an infection, you probably don't need to see your doctor. These infections usually go away on their own and go away without a prescription or medical intervention. There are several cases where you should probably seek help for acute bronchitis:

  • The temperature is over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • When coughing, bloody mucus appears.
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath
  • Symptoms for more than three weeks without improvement.
  • A cough that goes away and comes back

For chronic bronchitis, you should see your doctor and receive treatment before your symptoms worsen and further restrict your breathing.

When you see your doctor about chronic bronchitis or complications of acute bronchitis, they will do a visual exam of your throat, feel the lymph nodes in your neck for inflammation, and listen to your lungs with a stethoscope.

They may perform laboratory tests, including blood tests and lung function tests, as well as imaging tests, such as a chest X-ray or computed tomography (CT) scan, to check if the bronchitis has turned into pneumonia . They will ask about your medical history, family history, and symptoms.

Treatment options

Treatment for acute bronchitis generally includes rest, drinking fluids, and using a humidifier to keep the airways clear. If your cough interferes with your sleep, you can use cough suppressants or expectorants (preparations containing the active ingredient guaifenesin) from the pharmacy to help relieve it.

If you have a sore throat, suck on lozenges, lozenges, or lozenges. If you have pain or fever, try over-the-counter pain relievers to make yourself feel better, including:

  • Aspirin
  • Tylenol (acetaminophen)
  • Advil (ibuprofen)
  • Aleve (naproxen)

Antibiotics are not recommended for acute bronchitis because only a small percentage of cases are caused by bacteria, not viruses. When needed, an antibiotic can help your body fight infection-causing bacteria, but it won't help dissolve mucus or ease a nighttime cough.

If you have severe wheezing, shortness of breath, or chronic bronchitis, your healthcare provider may prescribe one or more inhalers as a treatment option for your bronchitis. Inhalers deliver the medicine directly into the lungs, where they help reduce swelling and open the bronchial tubes.

Your healthcare provider can prescribe a variety of inhalant options depending on your condition, your infection, and your long-term prognosis. These inhaled medications work in different ways and have different side effects.

Most of these inhaled medications are prescribed for chronic bronchitis or COPD, which is becoming more serious and can be fatal. The medications you are prescribed will depend on the severity of your chronic bronchitis.

Beta-2 agonists

Short-acting beta-2 agonists, such as albuterol , can be used for bronchitis when the patient is wheezing or short of breath. This can happen in both chronic and acute bronchitis.

Beta-2 agonists relieve symptoms of wheezing and shortness of breath by acting as bronchodilators by widening the opening of the bronchial tubes to allow more air to enter the lungs.

A Cochrane report, updated in 2015, suggests that regular prescription of beta-2 agonists is useless for most patients with acute bronchitis and not helpful for children with bronchitis. They seem to really help patients with wheezing or inflamed bronchial tubes that make it difficult to breathe. They can help these patients breathe easier.

Side effects of these medications include tremors, tremors, and nervousness.

Inhaled corticosteroids

Inhaled corticosteroids are sometimes prescribed for chronic bronchitis and COPD. They are not used as monotherapy for COPD. They are used in combination with long-acting bronchodilators for severe diseases (FEV1 <50%) or in patients with frequent exacerbations.

They work by reducing inflammation in the lungs, preventing symptoms such as wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, and chest tightness.

The review found that high doses of inhaled corticosteroids can improve symptoms in people with chronic bronchitis as part of COPD. They can slow down the rate of deterioration in quality of life and reduce the frequency of seizures. But they do not have a permanent long-term benefit in reducing the loss of the ability to breathe or the risk of death.

Side effects of inhaled steroids include mouth sores, hoarseness, and an increased risk of pneumonia.

Long-acting beta-2 agonists

Long-acting beta-2 agonists are used for moderate to severe chronic bronchitis when they interfere with the patient's breathing. Instead of short-acting beta-2 agonists, which are only used during an attack, these prescription inhalers are used daily to prevent flare-ups.

They act on the muscles of the lungs, relaxing them by opening the airways. Long-acting beta-2 agonists are often prescribed in combination with inhaled steroids for the daily prophylactic treatment of chronic bronchitis and COPD.

The side effects of long-acting beta-2 agonists are similar to those of short-acting beta-2 agonists. These include tremors, tremors, and nervousness, as well as headaches, palpitations, dizziness, restlessness, and rashes.


Sometimes inhaled medication, administered in a hospital or at home, is administered through a nebulizer that allows the patient to inhale the medication in the form of a mist. The nebulizer can deliver medications through a mask and does not require coordinated inhaler breathing.

They are sometimes recommended for patients with asthma, chronic bronchitis, and COPD who have very little ability to breathe. A nebulizer can deliver any of the above inhaled medications if that is best for you. The medications will have the same side effects as when taken through an inhaler.

Get the word of drug information

Cases of acute bronchitis usually go away without these medications. A healthcare professional can treat chronic bronchitis in many ways, so it is important to maintain a relationship with your doctor and manage your condition appropriately.

Lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking or reducing exposure to secondhand smoke or other irritants, can also help prevent chronic bronchitis from getting worse and reduce the need for inhalers and other treatments.

Physical activity can help strengthen your lungs, so talk to your doctor about your options. Prevent future infections by getting vaccinated against the flu and pneumonia.

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