Bronchitis is a condition that lies between a common cold and severe pneumonia. It occurs when the bronchioles (tubes that carry air to your lungs) get inflamed & swollen and produce too much mucus.
When these tubes swell, the movement of air through them becomes difficult and the person finds it challenging to breathe.
People suffering from bronchitis seldom coughs up thickened mucus, which is usually discolored.
In this blog post, we shall understand the various types of bronchitis, its causes, symptoms, prevention & treatment.
Types of Bronchitis
There are two basic types of bronchitis. Let’s discuss them one by one.
1. Acute Bronchitis: It lasts for about 10 or 14 days (It may even remain for 3-4 weeks). It is more common and is usually caused by viral infection.
The usual symptoms of this ailment are cough, sputum production and sometimes fever, chest pain & breathlessness. Incidents of acute bronchitis can become worse due to smoking.
2. Chronic Bronchitis: It is defined as a productive cough that persists for at least 3 months of a year or 2 years straight in a row.
In this, the airway inflammation can be caused due to initial respiratory infection, exposure to tobacco or other polluting substances in the air.
This leads to Airway Obstruction. Chronic Bronchitis is grouped under the term “Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease” (COPD).
Risk factors or Causes
Bronchitis occurs when a virus, bacteria or pollutants in the air stimulate inflammation of the bronchial tubes.
Causes of bronchitis are based on its types.
Acute Bronchitis: Causes for this condition are as follows:
1. Cold or flu virus
2. A bacterial infection
3. Exposure to pollutants that can infect the lungs, such as fumes, vapours, dust, tobacco, smoke, and air pollution
4. Have asthma or allergy
Chronic Bronchitis: Its causes are as follows:
1. Genetic factors
2. Recurrent damage or irritation to lungs
3. Repeated occurrences of acute bronchitis
4.History of a respiratory illness
5. Exposure to pesticides or other pollutants
Symptoms of bronchitis are:
1. A persistent cough (most common symptom), which may produce yellow or green mucus (sputum)
2. Whistling sound while breathing (wheezing)
3. Difficulty in breathing
5. Chest Pain
6. A sore throat
7. Body pain
To lower the risk of bronchitis, follow the tips mentioned below:
1. Avoid smoking (both active & passive)
2. Stay away from areas that include irritants and can infect the nose and lungs. These irritants can be – mould, dust, smoke, cleaners, pet dander, air pollution, etc.
3. Consume a nutritious diet
4. Ensure you are always flu and pneumonia vaccinated, especially if there is history of chronic lung disease.
5. Wear a mask when the pollution levels are too high
6. Wash your hands with water and soap to reduce exposure to germs and bacteria
1. Your doctor will figure out whether you have bronchitis or not by performing a physical test, examining your medical history, and reviewing your symptoms.
2. In addition, the doctor may ask questions about any recent bouts of cold or flu, if you smoke and whether you remain exposed to dust, fumes, smoke or air pollution.
3. Although doctors mostly rule out additional tests. But if you have a fever, the doctor may perform a chest X-ray to rule out pneumonia.
How to Manage your Bronchitis condition?
If you have bronchitis, then you can manage and even treat yourself by following the tips mentioned below.
1. Drink enough fluids – every one to two hours, unless your healthcare provider has limited your fluid intake
2. Follow your doctor’s instructions and take the medicines on time.
3. Relieve your body pain
4. Use a humidifier
5. Consume herbal tea or warm water mixed with lemon juice and honey to get immediate relief.
6. Take sufficient rest
Most cases of bronchitis go away on their own. However, there are certain cases where medical help may be needed.
Treatment for bronchitis may depend on its type. In the case of acute bronchitis, the doctor may prescribe over-the-counter medications to treat pain, fever or break up mucus.
The symptoms of chronic bronchitis may improve for a while. However, they can become worse again, especially if you remain exposed to pollutants.
Certain medications may be recommended by your doctor. These are –
1. Bronchodilators can be used to keep muscles relaxed around the airways.
2. Combination of medications such as the mix of steroids and short or long-acting bronchodilators.
3. Antibiotics to improve deteriorating coughs, mucus production, breathing concerns, etc.
4. Anti-inflammatory drugs can be used to treat swelling and mucus production.
A single incidence of bronchitis isn’t usually a cause for concern.
However, in some cases, it can lead to pneumonia. Recurrent episodes of bronchitis may indicate that you have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
If you suffer from any of the symptoms mentioned in this article, then you must consult a healthcare expert.
Experts at Neotia Getwel Healthcare Center specialist in Pulmonology (A medical specialty that deals with respiratory tract and lungs) and are dedicated to diagnosing and treating a wide range of ailments related to the lungs and respiratory tract. To book your appointment, click here.
Though all attempts are made to provide correct information on the subject, inadvertent & typographical errors arising out of manual intervention cannot be ruled out. It is requested to bring any such discrepancies to the notice of the blogger for correction.