What is Bronchitis?Bronchitis is the inflammation or swelling caused to the tubes carrying air to the lungs. Mainly there are two types of bronchitis – acute bronchitis, and chronic bronchitis.
- Acute bronchitis – It is a condition caused by viral infection to the respiratory tract. Symptoms like coughing with mucus and breathlessness last for a few days and improve on its own without causing any major problems.
- Chronic bronchitis – This keeps occurring frequently and makes your lungs vulnerable to bacterial infections. This can lead to serious conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a lung disorder that leads to shortness of breath.
Symptoms of BronchitisAt times it is very difficult to differentiate between bronchitis and other breathing and lung Diseases because mostly all conditions start with bronchitis Symptoms like cold, running nose, sore throat, and cough. Symptoms of acute bronchitis are as follows:
- Phlegm that is a clear, white, yellow, or green color
- Sometimes low fever or no fever
- Feeling chill
- Soreness or tenderness in the chest while coughing
- Rattling in the chest
- Wheezing or whistling while breathing
- Persistent cough with mucus
- Body aches and headaches
- Sinusitis and blocked nose
- A feeling of discomfort in the chest
- Stubborn cough for at least 3 months in a year with phlegm that is either clear or in white, yellow, green color.
Who is at Risk?Bronchitis is a very common lung disorder. However certain aspects make some people more susceptible to bronchitis Risk Factors. Those are as follows:
- Those who have a family history of lung Disease
- Those who have childhood respiratory Disease history
- People suffering from GERD (gastro-oesophageal reflux Disease)
- Those who have the habit of smoking. Especially women who smoke are at higher risk compared to men.
- Elderly people exposed to fumes and secondary smoke are more prone to chronic bronchitis.
- Children younger than 2 years and between the age of 9-15 years are at the highest risk of acute bronchitis.
- Those who suffer from respiratory disorder and asthma.
- Those who are exposed to air pollution and work in farming, textiles, and coal mining are at Risk of allergic bronchitis.
- Those with the weaker immune system.
Bronchitis CausesAs far as the Causes of bronchitis are concerned, it varies from person to person. However, when a bacteria, virus or allergen triggers an inflammation of the bronchial tube, it results in bronchitis. In acute bronchitis, a bacterial infection, viral infection, cold, flu, exposure to air pollution, smoke, dust, fumes, particles that irritate lungs, and chemical vapors can be considered as various bronchitis Causes. Chronic bronchitis Causes vary from genetic variants, recurrent attacks of acute bronchitis, having a history of respiratory illness and GERD, long term exposure to air pollution, pesticides, dust particles and fumes, and smoking can trigger this condition to a great extent.
How is Bronchitis Diagnosed?To Diagnose bronchitis, a pulmonologist will examine you physically with a stethoscope to check for unusual sounds in the lungs and ask for your previous medical history and any associated Symptoms that have been noticed. The bronchitis Diagnosis also involves several laboratory tests for blood, and sputum to check for any infections. Also, a chest X-ray is advised to look for any abnormality in your bronchial tubes, and lungs to rule out the chances of pneumonia as a part of the bronchitis test. To confirm whether you have acute bronchitis or chronic bronchitis, doctors will prescribe the following tests that will help in choosing the appropriate bronchitis Treatment:
- Examining for oxygen levels in the blood using a sensor that is connected with your toes or fingers.
- Mucous test to rule out the chances of whooping cough, or pertussis.
- Nasal swab test to check for bacterial or viral infection.
- A lung function test using a spirometer to rule out the chances of having emphysema (a COPD condition in which air sacs present in the lungs are destroyed) and asthma by breathing into the device.
- Blood tests to check the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the blood.
How is Bronchitis Treated?Acute bronchitis will settle down on its own within a few weeks. However, you can consult a pulmonologist and practice the following to ease the condition with prescribed medicines.
- Drink plenty of warm water that helps to thin out the mucus and makes it easy to cough it up and remove the mucus. Take at least 8-12 glasses.
- Take rest
- In case of fever and body pain, use the prescribed medicine
- Take a hot water bath to loosen the mucus.
- Steam inhalation or using a humidifier
- The doctor will prescribe bronchitis medicine to loosen your mucus which they generally call as an expectorant.
- Oxygen therapy to help you breathe better
- Breathing exercises to ease breathing
- Mucus clearing device to cough up easily.
- Antibiotics, bronchodilators, and anti-inflammatory to open your airways.
How can Bronchitis be Prevented?Certain simple measures will help you lower the chances of acute bronchitis attack and the flare-up of chronic bronchitis. Those are as follows;
- Quit the habit of smoking or stay away from cigarette smoke.
- Get vaccinated for flu, as flu viruses can trigger bronchitis.
- Get pertussis vaccine done on time.
- Maintain personal hygiene like washing your hands frequently.
- Wear a mask while going out and when you are exposed to fumes, chemicals, vapors, etc that cause allergy to the lungs.