Bronchitis is a common respiratory disease caused by viruses, bacteria, irritants like smoke, and other particles that aggravate the bronchial tubes. These are tubes that bring air from the nose and mouth to the lungs. You may be able to treat acute bronchitis on your own without medical treatment. In many cases, acute bronchitis is caused by a viral or bacterial infection and symptoms improve within a few weeks. Chronic bronchitis, on the other hand, is usually caused by long-term exposure to irritants like cigarette smoke. Treating chronic bronchitis is a bit more complicated and usually requires some significant lifestyle changes. It’s important to treat your symptoms right away to ensure a speedy recovery if you have acute bronchitis. With proper self-care, you should be able to bounce back quickly. But if the bronchitis worsens, doesn’t go away after a few weeks, or your lungs sounds congested, you should see a doctor.
Home Remedies for Bronchitis
It’s possible to treat acute bronchitis at home using natural remedies. Many of these methods may provide additional health benefits, as well.
Some researchers have found evidence that ginger can have an anti-inflammatory effect against respiratory infection. You can take ginger in several ways:
- Chew dried, crystallized ginger.
- Use fresh ginger to make tea.
- Eat it raw or add it to food.
- Take it in capsule form as directed.
It’s safest to use ginger in a natural form, rather than in capsules or supplements. You may be sensitive to ginger, so take it in small amounts if you’re not used to it. Eating occasional ginger is safe for everyone, but do not take ginger as a supplement or medication if you:
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding
- Have diabetes
- Have heart problems
- Have any type of blood disorder
Garlic is believed to have several healing properties. Results of a 2016 study show that garlic effectively inhibited the growth of infectious bronchitis virus. This finding suggests garlic can be used as a natural remedy for bronchitis. Fresh garlic is best, but if you dislike the taste, you can get it in capsule form, too. Use garlic with caution is you have a bleeding disorder. Always take it in small amounts to make sure it doesn’t upset your stomach.
A 2018 study found that turmeric has a number of properties that could make it useful in fighting bronchitis. Among these are antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory effects. Turmeric also increases antioxidant activity, meaning that it may help reduce irritation and boost your immunity. Using turmeric as a spice in food is usually safe unless you are sensitive to it. Do not use turmeric as a medication if you have:
- Stomach issues
- Gallbladder issues
- Bleeding or blood disorders
- Hormone-sensitive conditions
- Iron deficiency
If you’re pregnant or nursing, don’t take turmeric in large amounts.
Steam helps break up mucus so you can expel it more easily. The easiest way to use steam is in the bath or shower. Make your shower as hot as you can handle, step in, then breathe deeply through your mouth and nose. The hot water will also help relax muscles that may be tense from coughing. You can also visit a steam room at a gym or spa, it one’s available and you have enough energy. It’s best not to soak in a hot bath if you feel ill or short of breath. Another steam option involves putting hot water in a bowl, covering your head with a towel, and inhaling the steam. Some people add a mentholated vapor rub to the hot water to help with moving mucus.
Gargling salt water may help break up mucus and reduce pain in your throat. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt into a glass of warm water. Sip small amounts of the salt water and gargle at the back of your throat. Do not swallow the water. Instead, spit it out in the sink. Repeat as often as you like. Afterward, you may want to rinse your mouth with plain water.
Get plenty of sleep and allow your body to rest. It may be difficult to sleep soundly while fighting a cough, but take care to avoid any unnecessary activity. It is during the deep stages of sleep that you repair and enhance immune function so your body can better fight the inflammation.
A healthy lifestyle goes hand in hand with the prevention of illnesses. It can help you recover faster when you’re sick, too. A minor illness may even be your body’s way of telling you to slow down and take it easy. The following changes may help improve your recovery and reduce your risk of getting sick in the future:
- Quit smoking if you smoke, and avoid places where you may inhale secondhand smoke.
- Avoid visiting places where pollution is high.
- Wear a surgical mask if you’re exposed to pollution.
- Boost your immunity with a healthy diet.
- Exercise at least three times per week for at least 20 minutes each time.
- Wash you hands frequently to prevent the spread of infection.
- Use a humidifier and clean it regularly following the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Honey and Lemons
Sweet treatments have long been used to help soothe coughs and sore throats. Honey and lemon are commonly used, either alone or in teas.
Pineapple juice may also help. Pineapple contains bromelain, which is a natural and powerful anti-inflammatory that can help break up and expel mucus from bronchitis and other respiratory infections.
When to see a Doctor
If you think you aren’t recovering at a normal rate, visit your doctor. You may also consider seeing your doctor if you have:
- Coughing that lasts more than a month
- Extremely painful cough
- High fever
- Difficulty breathing
- Severe headache
- Blood with your cough
- Frequent cases of bronchitis
Symptoms of acute bronchitis usually resolve within 1 to 2 weeks with home treatment. You should start to feel noticeable better after a few days. A dry cough may last up to a month. Remember to:
- Drink plenty of water and warm liquids, and eat healthy foods.
- Rest as much as possible until you feel completely healthy.
- Incorporate as many aspects of a healthy lifestyle into your daily routine to maintain your health.
If your symptoms do not improve with home care, or if you frequently develop bronchitis, see a doctor. You may need more aggressive treatment, or you may have chronic bronchitis.