Definition

What is bronchitis?

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the lining of your bronchial tubes, caused by infections. Bronchi is the way that allow the air to go in and out from your lungs. People who have bronchitis often cough up thickened mucus, which can be discolored.

There are two types of bronchitis:

  • Acute bronchitis is a short-term infection that causes the airways in the lungs to swell and fill with mucus. Acute type often lasts for several weeks.
  • Chronic bronchitis is the constant irritation of bronchial tubes, often due to smoking. It can last for months or year Chronic bronchitis is much more severe than acute bronchitis.

How common is bronchitis?

Bronchitis is extremely common. It can affect patients at any age. But it can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of bronchitis?

The common symptoms of bronchitis are:

  • Long-lasting cough
  • Production of mucus, it may be streaked with blood
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Chest pain

If you have acute bronchitis, you may have a nagging cough that lingers for several weeks after the inflammation resolves. But if you have chronic bronchitis, you may have periods before it become worse. At those times, you may have signs and symptoms like acute bronchitis.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Symptoms lasts more than three weeks
  • Fever with high temperature
  • Produces discolored mucus
  • Blood occurs when you are coughing
  • Shortness of breath

Causes

What causes bronchitis?

Acute bronchitis is usually caused by virus infection. These viruses are the same types with cold and flu viruses.

The most common cause of chronic bronchitis is smoking cigarettes. However, air pollution, dust and toxic gases in the environment or workplace can also worsen this condition.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for bronchitis?

There are many risk factors for bronchitis, such as:

  • You are a heavy smoker, because smoking increase the risk of bronchitis.
  • Low resistance: this may result from another acute illness such as a cold, or from a chronic condition that impairs your immune system.
  • Age: older people, infants and young children have greater susceptibility to infection.
  • You work around certain lung irritants, such as grains, textiles, or you are exposed to chemical fumes.
  • Gastric reflux: the repeated severe heartburn bouts can irritate your throat and make you more prone to develop bronchitis.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is bronchitis diagnosed?

After asking about the symptoms, your doctor will use a stethoscope to listen closely to your lungs as you breathe. The further tests will be also recommended:

  • A chest X-ray can show the reason why you have mentioned symptoms.
  • Sputum tests: sputum is the mucus that you cough up from your lungs. Testing sputum can determine if you are infected with viruses or not.
  • Pulmonary function test is used to measure the amount of air that your lungs can hold and how quickly you can get air out of lungs. Moreover, this test can checks for signs of asthma or emphysema.

How is bronchitis treated?

If you have acute bronchitis, your doctor will prescribe some types of medications that help reduce your symptoms. The most common medication include:

  • Antibiotics: this medication does not work well on bronchitis, but the doctor may give you to prevent the risk of bacterial infections if your resistance is low due.
  • Cough medicine: coughing too much can injure your throat and bronchi. If your cough keeps you from sleeping, you need to take cough medicine.
  • Other medications: if you have allergies, asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), doctor may recommend an inhaler or other medications to reduce inflammation and open narrowed passages in your lungs.

If you have chronic bronchitis, it is necessary to take rehabilitation. This therapy will provide you a breathing exercise program that teaches you how to breathe more easily and increase your ability to exercise.

Lifestyle changes & Home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage bronchitis?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you reduce the risk of having bronchitis

  • Quiet smoking.
  • Wear a mask when you expose to polluted atmosphere, especially when you are going out or clean off your house.
  • Use a humidifier: the warm, moist air helps relieve coughs and loosens mucus in your airways.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: February 3, 2017 | Last Modified: February 3, 2017

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