Causes, Symptoms and Treatment of Bronchitis
When there is irritation of the lining of your bronchial tubes that carry air back and forth from
your lungs, its called bronchitis generally people who have bronchitis, cough up thick mucus,
which can be discolored. The irritations on the lining of the bronchial tubes are caused to due
various viruses such as flu and some bacteria’s.
Bronchitis may possibly be either acute or chronic. If recently you have had a cold that may
have turned into a cough then you might have an acute bronchitis where as if your cough is
producing persistent mucus that lasts longer than 3 months or more then it might be a chronic
bronchitis. Acute bronchitis is a shorter illness which may be known as cold or viral infection
which lasts only for a few days where as Chronic bronchitis may last for months every years and
causes difficulty in breathing and the symptoms may get worse during that time. Also if chronic
bronchitis occurs with emphysema, it becomes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
and you may need medical attention immediately.
Symptoms for both acute and chronic bronchitis includes coughing, repetition in production of
sputum (mucus) which can be clear, white, yellowish-gray or green in color speckled with blood
creating shortness of breath, chest discomfort, constant fever and chills. In case of acute
bronchitis you may have only cold symptoms such as headaches, body aches, these symptoms
will improve in a week or so and you may get a cough that will vanish in a few weeks whereas
chronic bronchitis may cause a cough lasting at least 3 months with repetitive bouts occurring
for two following years. Also when your cough gets worse, at those times you may have acute
bronchitis plus chronic bronchitis.
The causes of acute bronchitis may be the some viruses that cause cold and flu whereas the
most common cause for chronic bronchitis is smoking of cigarettes, air pollution, dust etc.
People who smoke have the higher risk of bronchitis than the people who don’t smoke. Adults
or young children, all have greater openness to these infections. Sometimes the work
environment is also a cause for such diseases. If an adult is working in chemical industries
where they are exposed to chemical fumes, they have a greater risk than others to have
bronchitis. Some people also suffer from gastric reflux; repeated heartburns can cause irritation
to the throat making an individual prone to developing bronchitis.
Visit the doctor in case the cough is longer than 3 weeks, if the cough does not let you sleep, if
the fever is high and is not coming down, If the thickened mucus is clear or contains blood and
most important if the cough causes difficulty in breathing.
Your doctor may recommend you to take rest and drink lots of water as it helps an acute
bronchitis fade away more quickly. Other treatments may include a cough syrup in case you’re
not producing anymore mucus but if you’re still clearing your airways then the doctor might not
recommend you to take it, a pain reliever, the doctor may also suggest you sit in a steamy
bathroom and may also ask you to take bronchodilators (inhaled medications that help you
open up airways)
Your doctor may also advice you takes these laboratory tests:
- Sputum Culture
- Chest X-ray
These laboratory tests are important because:
- If your symptoms are severe, the doctor may ask for sputum culture test which your
mucus sample you cough up as the lab test will reveal whether the mucus that you are
coughing up is caused by an allergy or a whooping cough (pertussis: a contagious
bacterial infection). Severe symptoms may need more tests.
- A laboratory tests such a siprometry which is a test of lung function, it measures the air
your lungs can hold and how fast it can blow it out. This test helps your doctor find out
whether you have asthma in particular or any other breathing problems along with
- A laboratory test such as chest x-ray is important in case you had fever because that will
confirm if whether you have pneumonia or not.
- In some cases PCR for H1N1 ( Swine flu) may be required, investigation for tuberculosis
may also be done such as a sputum for AFB, PCR for TB and TB culture
Bronchitis can be prevented if you follow these tips:
- Avoid smoking as it increases the risk of chronic bronchitis
- Check if you are vaccinated for influenza. Get a yearly flu vaccine to help you protect
from flu. Consider vaccines that protect against some types of pneumonia.
- Wash your hands regularly to reduce the risk of catching a virus. Try using alcohol-based
hand sanitizers as frequently as possible.
- In case you have been diagnosed with COPD, then consider wearing a face mask to
avoid getting exposed to fumes or dust when you are in a crowded place or while