Bronchitis is considered as one of the top ten conditions that people would seek medical attention for once affected. It is an uncomfortable illness that can render a person coughing profusely for several weeks or even months. Along with the coughing fit which is often painful, plenty of thick mucus would also be discharged.
Most healthcare specialists would usually treat bronchitis with antibiotics. Unfortunately, not all antibiotic treatments are effective against certain types of viruses.
Bronchitis – What is it?
Bronchitis is a condition where there is an inflammation of our bronchial tubes. Our bronchial tubes are what carries the air to your lungs from the trachea or windpipe. When inflammation occurs, it causes a person to cough continuously because of the mucus accumulation and often making it difficult to breathe properly.
The common term for bronchitis is known as a chest cold. It is because it happens after experiencing symptoms of the common cold.
It is estimated that more than 5 percent of adults would experience symptoms of acute bronchitis each year. Moreover, more than 90 percent of them would seek out medical care.
There are generally two types of bronchitis:
Acute bronchitis – This type of condition would only last for about ten days or less while coughing can continue for a few more weeks. Acute bronchitis doesn’t usually leave any further problems once the inflammation is gone.
Chronic bronchitis – This type would last for a longer period and is usually recurrent. People who suffer from chronic bronchitis are people who commonly have asthma. Moreover, people who smoke a lot would usually suffer from chronic bronchitis is the long run.
Bronchitis – Signs and Symptoms
A clear indication of acute bronchitis is when there is persistent coughing. The coughing would last when the inflamed bronchial tubes have healed and swelled down. The coughing would usually continue for around three weeks or even a month.
Since bronchitis is usually accompanied by cold and flu, you may also experience symptoms of cold and flu-like:
– Fatigue and lethargy
– Congested or a runny nose
– Aches felt in some parts of the body
A clear, thick and slimy mucus substance may be produced once you cough when you have bronchitis. Additionally, if the mucus appears greenish or yellowish, it will also indicate that your bronchial tubes are infected with bacteria as well.
Other symptoms that indicate acute bronchitis as well also includes a feeling of tightness or pain in the chest, wheezing (a squeaky or whistling sound when breathing), and even difficulty in breathing especially when performing physical activities.
For people who have chronic bronchitis, they would usually experience persistent coughing and is often called smoker’s cough, that produces a lot of fluids and would also experience wheezing and chest pains.
Bronchitis – What causes it and who are at risk?
When you catch a cold and flu, the same virus that causes it can also lead to bronchitis as well. One of the leading causes of bronchitis is an influx of bacteria, especially in the respiratory system. It is suggested by research that about 95 percent of acute bronchitis cases are triggered by bacteria that causes infection. The viruses responsible include adenovirus, rhinovirus, parainfluenza, and influenza A and B.
People who generally have underlying health conditions are usually more prone to bacteria that cause bronchitis. It is because our body is trying to ward off the foreign invaders in our body causing the bronchial tubes to inflame and swell and producing more mucus. As a result, the openings for the air passageway becomes too small to flow in and make it difficult to breathe.
Infants, younger children, and elderly people are more prone to developing bronchitis as their immune systems are weaker than individuals of other ages. Similarly, adults who develop chronic bronchitis are usually smokers and people who are above the age of 45. However, chronic bronchitis can develop anytime.
Moreover, women are also prone to developing bronchitis as well. There are reports that suggest women are twice as likely to develop the condition more than men.
People who work in areas that let them have constant and direct contact with dust, chemical vapors and fumes because of the kind of job they keep are also likely to develop bronchitis. These types of jobs include coal mining, livestock farming, textile manufacturing, and grain handling.
In other cases, some people can also develop bronchitis due to the allergic reaction they have towards certain types of foods.
Bronchitis – How is it diagnosed?
Often, bronchitis symptoms can often be difficult to determine as it can also indicate other types of respiratory conditions. It is ideal to have yourself checked by your doctor and rule out possible symptoms of bronchitis:
– Through chest X-ray to determine whether it is bronchitis that is causing constant coughing or other chest conditions like pneumonia
– Through putting your mucus when you cough under a test and analysis to confirm whether there is a presence of bacteria in your lungs
– Through a CT scan and checking the X-rays of your body at different angles for the doctor to see your lungs and organs better
Bronchitis – How is it treated?
There are various conventional treatments available now to improve your bronchitis problem. Some of these treatments include bronchodilators or through the use of over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. However, an overdose can be damaging to the health, so it’s often not coined as an effective means of treatment.
Natural treatments, however, are better options as they are safe and often easy to do. Some alternative remedies to help relieve bronchitis symptoms and reduce coughing includes:
– Changes in lifestyle including diet
– Drinking plenty of water and keeping yourself constantly hydrated
– Making use of a humidifier at home to loosen the mucus building up as well as clearing the airways for easy breathing
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– Taking herbal supplements especially rich in vitamin C
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– Using essential oils including peppermint and tea tree oil
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Even with all the remedies available to treat bronchitis, it is still important to visit your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms.
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