Bronchitis is a disease of the respiratory system where the mucous membranes of bronchial passages in lungs get inflamed. These affected membranes become swollen and thickened, resulting in narrowing or shutting off the tiny airways in lungs. Therefore, these patients will complain of coughing spells associated with phlegm and breathlessness. Acute bronchitis is often caused by viruses and patients will often complain of a persistent cough for several days to a week. Patients, who are otherwise healthy will recover, as the lung infection resolves. In contrast, chronic bronchitis is a serious condition, which may need regular medical interventions. Chronic cigarette smokers have a high risk of acquiring chronic bronchitis, following an episode of acute bronchitis since the process of recovery is incomplete due to cigarette smoke, which will damage cilia, the tiny hair-like structures in lungs which help to wipe out excess mucus and debris. Chronic bronchitis can also occur as a result of industrial pollution were coal miners, grain handles and metal moulders are hugely affected. Symptoms of chronic bronchitis can also get exacerbated with the inhalation of sulphur dioxide and other noxious gases in the polluted air. Asthmatic patients can also present with symptoms of bronchitis due to inflammation of the bronchial tube linings.
HOW IS BRONCHITIS DIAGNOSED?
Pulmonologists may diagnose acute bronchitis through physical examination and symptoms. He may listen to your lungs using a stethoscope. In case of chronic bronchitis, a chest X-ray may help confirm diagnosis. Pulmonary function tests may be required to measure the functioning of lungs.
HOW IS BRONCHITIS TREATED?
Acute bronchitis, which is commoner than chronic bronchitis will often resolve spontaneously even without any medical treatment. But if the patient has severe or persistent symptoms (cough more than 4 weeks), difficulty in breathing develops high fever or coughs out blood, immediate medical advice should seem. The treatment plan for chronic bronchitis mainly includes quitting smoking. Bronchodilators and steroids will also help to control the condition. Vaccinations against pneumococcal disease are encouraged unless contraindicated.
DID YOU KNOW?
Pulmonary rehabilitation may be prescribed for chronic bronchitis.