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Woman coughing outside.

Is your lingering cough or cold bronchitis?

July 8, 2015

When your cough or cold seems like it's lasted too long, it is time to see a medical professional. What started out as a common cold virus or influenza may have become bronchitis. And bronchitis can lead to more serious or even dangerous conditions, such as pneumonia, according to Khalilah Babino, DO, an immediate care doctor at Loyola Center for Health at Homer Glen.

Loyola Medicine primary care doctor Khalilah Babino, DO Khalilah Babino, DO


“We see a lot of cases of bronchitis at our immediate care centers," Dr. Babino said. Bronchitis is a serious condition of the lower respiratory tract and occurs when bronchi of the lungs become inflamed. Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Chest congestion
  • Productive cough that lasts longer than five days

Treatment commonly includes rest, fluids, a humidifier, fever and pain relievers and over-the-counter cough medication. “The cough can last two to three weeks and could be an indicator of a more serious condition. If symptoms persist for more than seven to 10 days or symptoms start to get worse, see a healthcare provider,” she said.

  • Other symptoms of a more serious condition include:
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing

Patients who are wheezing or having difficulty breathing may need an inhaler or nebulizer, and possibly a short course of oral steroid medication. "If breathing problems are severe it’s best for the person to be evaluated in an emergency room,” Dr. Babino said.