ORLANDO, Fla. -

A trend in bronchitis cases indicates those living in Central Florida might want to break out the hand sanitizer.

Health professionals in the area say they've seen a recent increase in the number of bronchitis cases -- Centra Care reported an increase of 500 percent at its Winter Garden Village and Lee Road locations and 350 percent in Conway.

Bronchitis is inflammation of the large air passages in one's lungs, symptoms of which include: a dry cough that develops into a cough with mucus, wheezing, fatigue, chest tightness and mild fever, according to a Centra Care release. Acute bronchitis, which is contagious, typically develops from colds or other upper-respiratory infections.

Health professionals caution people to wash their hands frequently to avoid spreading and contracting bronchitis.

Bronchitis usually goes away in about a week. Those whose symptoms worsen, experience shortness of breath or a fever that lasts more than four or five days should contact a physician.

There are several things those who have bronchitis can do to lessen the severity of symptoms:

  • Use over-the-counter medications to relieve pain fever and cough
  • Use a humidifier to help break up mucus
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Keep away from tobacco smoke