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Bronchitis

Why do so many people seem to have bronchitis? Let me unveil a secret of the trade: Whenever a bad cough lingers endlessly after a cold, a doctor may be tempted to appease an exasperated patient by treating it with antibiotics under the label of “bronchitis.” This accomplishes nothing, but it gives the patient patience to wait for a spontaneous resolution, and of course it also contributes to antibiotic overuse.



Unless they’re smoking three packs of cigarettes a day, kids don’t suffer from bronchitis. Or you could look at it another way: Every time a child coughs, it’s a symptom of bronchitis, because the word simply means “irritation of the airway.”



One final note: Don’t confuse bronchitis with bronchiolitis, which is a viral inflammation typical of young children [See: Bronchiolitis].