What is Bronchitis?
Bronchitis is an inflammation and swelling of the bronchial ducts (tubes), the air sections between the mouth and nose and the lungs. Specifically, Bronchitis applies to an ailment where the lining of the bronchial tubes becomes inflamed. People who have Bronchitis possess a reduced ability to inhale air and oxygen into their lungs; also, they cannot clear heavy mucus or phlegm from their breathing passages.
Undoubtedly you had your own discuss of colds. Maybe you even know somebody who had pneumonia. In between of these two situations is a sickness called Bronchitis, that could be more serious as compared to the common cold but not as threatening as pneumonia.
A cold or the influenza runs its course in a couple weeks, if you’re lucky. Thereafter, you’re back to normal. But at times you can get Bronchitis, too. That’s when your bronchial tubes, which carry air to your lungs, get infected and bulged up. You may end up getting an irritating cough and a much more mucus. You may get Bronchitis in other ways too.
There are Two Types of Bronchitis
Acute Bronchitis: This is the more common one. Signs and symptoms persist for a couple weeks, but it doesn’t generally cause any problems past that. Acute Bronchitis normally has a cough that can last around 3 weeks. In more than 90% of circumstances the cause is a viral infection. These types of viruses may be spread through the air when people cough or by direct contact. Threat factors include exposure to cigarettes smoke, dirt and dust, and other air pollution. A small number of cases are due to increased levels of air pollution or harmful bacteria such as Mycoplasma pneumoniae or Bordetella pertussis. Treatments for acute Bronchitis typically requires rest, paracetamol(acetaminophen), and NSAIDs to help with the fever.
Chronic Bronchitis: This one is more serious, in that it will keep coming back or doesn’t vanish at all. Chronic Bronchitis is referred to as a productive cough that can last for three months or more per year for at least two years. Most of the people with chronic Bronchitis have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease(COPD). Nicotine and tars smoking is the most common cause, with many other factors for example air pollution and genetics and heredity playing a smaller role. Treatments can include quitting smoking, vaccinations, rehabilitation, and often inhaled bronchodilators and steroids. Some individuals may benefit from long-term oxygen therapies or even lung transplantation.
Signs and Symptoms of Bronchitis
You’ll have a cough, and you may suffer from various problems with breathing. Signs and symptoms of both acute and chronic Bronchitis are as follows:
- Constant Coughing: A cough that may bring up a lot of mucus that’s clear, white, yellow, or green.
- Sneezing: You may sneeze often than earlier.
- Wheezing: A wheezing sound when breathing (may or may not be present).
- Fever: A low fever may or may not be present.
- Difficulty in Breathing: You may feel shortness of breath or uneven breathing.
- Chills: You May feel chilling with fever.
- Tightening of Chest: You can also suffer from tightening of chest.
- Pain in Body: Your body will start paining starting from chest to head.
- Sore Throat: Due to persistent coughing, you will have sore throat.
- Stuffy Nose: You may go through stuffy or runny nose.
- Symptoms of Sinus: There a slight chances of sinus symptoms also.
- Severe Headaches: Due to constant coughs, your head will suffer from pains.
- Nausea: You may feel tired or weakness.
While most of the signs and symptoms of Bronchitis normally get better within 2 weeks, coughing can be sometimes persistent for up to 8 weeks.
Causes of Bronchitis
Normally, the same viruses that make you suffer from cold or the flu can also cause you Bronchitis. Sometimes, though, bacteria are at the blame. In both the cases, as your body’s immune system fights with the germs, your bronchial tubes get swollen and make more mucus. That means you may have smaller openings of bronchial tubes for the air to flow, which can make it harder to breathe.
Bronchitis could be caused by either a virus or else bacterias, however viral Bronchitis is more common. Generally, Bronchitis is caused by the very same viruses that initiate the common cold or the flu. The virus is found in the millions of tiny droplets which come out of the nostril and mouth whenever someone coughs or sneezes.
All these droplets typically spread about 1m(3ft). They hang floating in the air for some time, after that land on surfaces where the virus can stay alive for up to 24 hrs. Anyone who touches these surface areas can spread the virus farther by touching other things.
If any of these things is experienced by you then, you have a bigger chance of getting Bronchitis:
- Weaker Immune System: This sometimes happens with adults and people with ongoing diseases, as well as for toddlers and young children. Even a normal cold or cough can make it more likely since your body’s already very busy fighting with those germs.
- Smoking: If you smoke cigarettes or live with a smoker.
- Place of Work: Your work surround things that bother lungs, such as chemical fumes or chemical dust (Examples: coal mining, animal husbandry).
- Pollution: You live in or travel at such a place with poor air quality or lots of pollution.
How Bronchitis can be Diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask you about your signs and symptoms of Bronchitis and he will perform a physical examination. As most people with acute Bronchitis can get better within a short period, your doctor may recommend the following tests if your symptoms persist for a long time or get worse.
- X-ray: X-ray of a chest to ensure you haven’t developed pneumonia, which can be a very serious complication of acute Bronchitis.
- Mucus(Sputum) Sample: Your doctor may recommend testing a sample of the mucus (sputum) you are coughing up for a bacterial infection.
- Spirometry (Lung Function Tests): Your medical expert may recommend you check the state of the air passages of your lungs and how well your lungs are functioning.
- Throat Swab: This test is conducted to check the probable causes of acute Bronchitis, such as influenza.
You should immediately consult your doctor if you face the following circumstances:
- You feel shortness in breath
- You have pain with breathing
- You are having high fevers
- You are coughing up lots of mucus or the mucus is blood-stained
- Your symptoms are not improving
- You have pre-existing heart or lung disease (such as heart failure or asthma).
Treatment of Bronchitis
Treatment for Acute Bronchitis: Most people recover from acute Bronchitis with self-help measures within a couple of weeks. If you have acute Bronchitis, your doctor may advise you to:
- Drink Plenty of Fluids
- Take Medicines such as Paracetamol to Reduce Pain and Fever
In most of the cases of acute Bronchitis you may not require antibiotics. However, if you are coughing up lots of yellow or green sputum, you have a high fever, or you are particularly unwell, your Bronchitis may have a bacterial cause. In this case, your doctor may prescribe you antibiotics.
Treatment for Chronic Bronchitis: There are several options your doctor will recommend if you have chronic Bronchitis or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
- Giving up on smoking will slow the rate that the disease progresses and should improve your symptoms. This is by far the most important thing you can do to help if you are a smoker.
- Medicines can be used to relieve symptoms, prevent flare-ups, and improve lung function and quality of life. They are often taken in the form of an inhaler.
- Antibiotics are normally prescribed to treat flare-ups in people with chronic Bronchitis.
- Pulmonary rehabilitation programmes are designed to help improve symptoms and quality of life for people with COPD.
- An annual influenza vaccination can prevent you from catching influenza in the winter, and is recommended for people with COPD. Vaccination against pneumococcal disease is also recommended.
How to Prevent Bronchitis?
One of the most common causes of acute Bronchitis is influenza (the flu), so it’s a clever idea to have an annual flu vaccination. Immunisation is usually recommended in autumn, so that you are protected over the wintertime flu season. Pneumococcal vaccination is similarly recommended for some people. Being immunised helps protect against several strains of pneumococcal bacteria that commonly cause pneumonia.
See your doctor about which vaccines are appropriate for you and whether you are eligible for free vaccination under the Australian National Immunisation Program Schedule. It’s also important to reduce exposure to smoking. Stop smoking if you are a smoker, and take steps to avoid reflexive smoking.
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