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Bronchitis - Symptom, Treatment And Causes

What is Bronchitis?

Bronchitis is a respiratory disorder where the mucus membrane found in the lung’s passage gets inflamed. Bronchitis is characterized by phlegm, breathless and coughing spells which occurs when the membrane of the throat swells and becomes thicker. This leads to the narrowing or the shutdown of the airways in the lungs. Bronchitis can be classified into two types, chronic bronchitis and acute bronchitis. Acute bronchitis can lead to hacking cough, the infection is viral and is caused by bacteria. Whereas, chronic bronchitis is a long term diseases and requires immediate medical treatment.Smoking contributes in triggering the symptoms of acute bronchitis. If you happen to be a regular smoker, it is extremely difficult for you to recover. The smoke of the cigarette destroys the tiny hairs in your lungs (cilla). These structures help to brush out excess mucus, irritants and debris. Continued damage to the cilla increases your chances of developing chronic bronchitis. Permanent damage to the cilla can be caused. This condition is called COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and makes it difficult for someone to breathe.

What causes bronchitis?

Acute bronchitis is usually caused due to some form of lung infection. 90% of the lung infections are viral. Prolonged and continuous attacks of bronchitis can irritate and weaken your bronchial airway resulting in chronic bronchitis. Industrial pollutants also contribute in developing bronchitis. People who work in coal mines, grain handling industries and meal molders are more prone in developing chronic bronchitis. This is due to the continuous exposure to fumes and dust. The major causes of bronchitis include cigarette smoking, exposure to high levels of sulfur di-oxide and exposure to other pollutants in the atmosphere.

Facts about bronchitis:

  • Acute bronchitis is a short term disease which leads to a vial infection or a cold. Whereas, chronic bronchitis is long term and can result to extended illness.
  • Exposure to pesticides and insecticides can also increase the susceptibility to bronchitis.
  • Lung function testing, blood tests and chest X-ray is performed to diagnose bronchitis.
  • Acute bronchitis can be cured on its own without any medical treatment.

Treatment :

Bronchitis cannot be cured completely, but proper medications can relieve its symptoms to a great extent. Usually antibiotics and cough medicines are prescribed to clear the throat and to ease the discomfort caused by bronchitis. Severe bronchitis can be treated by using bronchodilators (opens the tubes and clears out mucus), mucolytics (loosens the mucus in the airways), anti inflammatory medicines and glucocorticoid steroids.

Can't be cured, but treatment helps Usually self diagnosable Lab test not required Spread through the air or contaminated surfaces
High fever Coughing up blood Chest pain Persistant coughing Headaches and body aches Wheezing Blocked nose

Popular Health Tips

Bronchitis - Can It Be Contagious?

MD - Pulmonary, DTCD
Pulmonologist, Faridabad
Bronchitis - Can It Be Contagious?

You are out in public, and a person next to you is incessantly coughing. It is natural to be worried if it is bronchitis and the possibility of you getting infected. Read on to know about the condition and if it is really contagious. Bronchial tubes are the airways in the lungs, and when they are inflamed due to an infection or an underlying medical condition, it results in bronchitis. Bronchitis can be acute or chronic and depending on the cause, may or may not be contagious.

Types of bronchitis
Chronic bronchitis occurs when the airways in the lungs get irritated again and again. Though it’s a severe health condition that requires medical attention, it is not as contagious as it occurs due to the exposure to certain chemicals, dust, cigarette smoke or smoke from a fire, air pollutants that irritate the lungs.

On the other hand, acute bronchitis that usually lasts for one to three weeks is considered to be contagious because this particular type of bronchitis happens due to the flu or cold viruses. It is the infectious properties of the viruses causing it that makes it contagious.

In the case of acute bronchitis, since it is caused mainly due to viral infections when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, the viruses get transmitted to others in the surrounding. Hence it can spread quickly.

Some of the common symptoms of acute bronchitis are a hacking cough, production of excessive mucus, shortness of breath, and feelings of discomfort in the chest. Note that as long as the infection is present, acute bronchitis remains contagious. Once the infection is gone, it is no longer contagious, though, the symptoms, like a persisting cough, may stay for several weeks afterward.

Maintaining a healthy hygiene, such as washing hands regularly or keeping the surfaces clean, or using a handkerchief when coughing or sneezing can help in preventing the spread of the infection as well as getting affected with it. Also, taking flu vaccinations and quitting to smoke can also assist in preventing lung infections.

For the majority cases of acute bronchitis, the condition is resolved by itself within a few weeks and antibiotics may not be an ideal treatment option if the acute bronchitis is caused by a virus. The most recommended treatment options that can quicken the recovery process are taking rest, opting for prescribed over-the-counter medications, drinking lots of fluids, inhaling the steam of hot water, whether from the shower or a bowl of hot water.

People who have asthma or chronic bronchitis sometimes may develop acute bronchitis as a result of further complications of their present lung conditions and not as a result of virus invasion. Therefore, the chances of such acute bronchitis being contagious are less than those caused by influenza viruses or bacteria.

Thus, acute bronchitis due to a viral infection is more contagious than chronic bronchitis that is due to an underlying medical condition like asthma and other lung diseases. With a few simple and effective measures, such contagious infections can be prevented.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

3577 people found this helpful

Is Bronchitis Contagious?

MBBS, MD - Pulmonary Medicine, FNB-Critical Care and Medicine
Pulmonologist, Gurgaon
Is Bronchitis Contagious?

If you are having a chronic cough and often pant for breath, it is quite possible that you may be suffering from bronchitis. In addition to this, you may also experience wheezing, fatigue, and pain in the chest. It is triggered when the lining of the airways in the lungs become irritated. To determine, whether or not bronchitis is contagious, it is important to understand what caused the ailment.

  1. Chronic bronchitis: This type of bronchitis happens when the airways get continuously irritated. It may last for months or even years and tend to come back. It is caused by irritants that affect the lungs such as dust, chemicals, smoke, fire, and smoking cigarettes. Even though chronic bronchitis is not considered contagious, it is a serious health issue that requires medical attention.
  2. Acute bronchitis: It generally lasts for about 1 to 3 weeks and stems from cold or flu virus. As these infections are contagious, so is acute bronchitis.

Whether a person having bronchitis can spread the disease depends on the virus that is causing the ailment. In most instances, it is seen that the disease is contagious for a first few weeks of infection. Since there are hundreds of viruses causing bronchitis, it is best to assume that a person is bound to spread the disease when he has symptoms of cold and flu.

What causes transmission of bronchitis?
Acute bronchitis owing to infection is generally transmitted via an airborne droplet containing germs. It is transmitted when someone having infection shakes hand or sneezes or coughs or has any other physical contact. Some virus and bacteria have the power to live outside the body for a prolonged span of time, and therefore, you can get infected by touching any object that is harboring the germs.

It is often seen that acute bronchitis begins as flu and therefore, the best way to prevent it is to get an annual shot of flu. When you come in contact with an infected person, the chances of being affected is high if you have chronic infections or weak immune system. Aged people and young children are most vulnerable to this disease.

How can acute bronchitis be prevented?
Even though acute bronchitis is extremely common and can occur at any time, winter is the most vulnerable season for bronchitis. But there are ways in which you can prevent bronchitis effortlessly. You should avoid close contact and sharing of utensils with an infected person who has flu, cold or bronchitis. You should not touch a used tissue since the virus of bronchitis can easily spread through mucus. Make sure that you get the annual flu shot and wash your hands in warm water.

The disease is very common, and it can make you feel very uncomfortable at times. But there are times when the symptoms subside on their own without any sort of medical attention.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!


3214 people found this helpful

Bronchitis - Common Causes Behind It!

Diploma in Tuberculosis and Chest Diseases (DTCD), Board Certified in Pulmonary Medicine, FCCP - Pulmonary Medicine
Pulmonologist, Nagpur
Bronchitis - Common Causes Behind It!

If you find yourself suffering from coughing spells accompanied by breathlessness and phlegm, you may have bronchitis. Bronchitis is a respiratory disease that causes an inflammation of the bronchial tubes. This narrows the airway and does not allow sufficient oxygen to reach the lungs. There are two types of bronchitis; acute bronchitis that lasts for 1-3 weeks and chronic bronchitis that persists for 3 months to 2 years.

Causes of acute bronchitis
Acute bronchitis is usually a result of viral, lung infections. It can also be caused by bacterial infections and exposure to irritants such as tobacco smoke, dust, vapours and particulate matter in the air.

Causes of chronic bronchitis
Repeated attacks of acute bronchitis can weaken the bronchial passage with time and lead to the development of chronic bronchitis. This condition can also be caused by prolonged exposure to dust, pollution and industrial fumes. This puts coal miners, grain handlers and metal workers at a high risk of suffering from this disease. Smoking cigarettes can also irritate the bronchial tubes and contribute to the development of this condition. Chronic bronchitis worsens when a person is exposed to high levels of sulpher dioxide and other such air pollutants for prolonged time periods. Some of the symptoms of bronchitis are:

If these symptoms last for over a week or begin to interfere with your regular lifestyle, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Self-medicating with an over the counter cough suppressant is counterproductive in the case of bronchitis as a cough is the only way for phlegm and mucus to be expelled from the body. Conventional treatment for bronchitis includes

  • Getting lots of rest
  • Drinking plenty of fluids
  • Avoiding exposure to smoke and dust
  • Steam inhalations

Along with this, your doctor may also prescribe cough medicines and a bronchial inhalator. In cases of chronic bronchitis, oral or inhaled steroids may also be needed. Your doctor may also suggest a flu vaccine as bronchitis make your lungs vulnerable to further infections. If you smoke, your doctor will also urge you to quit as cigarette smoke can aggravate your symptoms.

In cases of severe chronic bronchitis where the bronchial tube’s ability to pass oxygen is compromised, oxygen therapy may be needed. In such cases, you may need to have an oxygen tank on hand to be used continuously or as required.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

3677 people found this helpful

Congenital Heart Disease - Signs Your Kid is Suffering from It!

MBBS, DM - Cardiology, MD
Cardiologist, Hyderabad
Congenital Heart Disease - Signs Your Kid is Suffering from It!

Most families refer to their newborn baby as their 'bundle of joy'. The news of a child being born brings immense joy to the entire family. However, due to various reasons, a child could be born with some medical abnormalities, which would be known as congenital abnormalities. There are several different types of heart defects that can be congenital. These usually manifest themselves either immediately after birth or in the early years of life. In some cases, the abnormality could be detected on prenatal ultrasounds. In others, it may not be and the family could be caught off guard about the condition. This causes a lot of stress, both for the child, who does not receive regular postnatal care and for the parents immediately after the delivery process.

If the baby has the following symptoms within the first few hours of life, there could be a serious underlying condition, which requires medical attention. The presence and severity of the symptoms would depend on the actual abnormality.

  1. The skin is pale gray or blue in color due to excessive venous flow in the system
  2. Excessive sweating
  3. The child is exerting to breathe regularly
  4. Rapid breathing causes added load on the heart accompanied by a grunting noise
  5. Flared nostrils i.e. the baby attempts to take in more oxygen with each breath causes flared nostrils
  6. Swollen legs, eyes, and abdomen: Fluid retention in the legs and abdomen is quite common, and this could be characteristic of newborns with congenital heart disease
  7. Shortness of breath, even during feeding
  8. Clubbed fingernails
  9. Lethargy and low energy, even with feeding, therefore very poor feeding pattern
  10. Chest pain, which may cause the newborn to cry incessantly
  11. Low weight gain, as they feed less

In some children, symptoms manifest only during the teenage years or early adulthood. These conditions are not very severe and the symptoms include:

  1. Swelling of the hands, feet, and ankles due to fluid accumulation
  2. Lowered energy levels, leading to easy fatigue
  3. Shortness of breath with even minimal physical activity
  4. Inability to exercise
  5. Developmental delays and changes in growth milestones
  6. Recurrent respiratory tract infections including sinus infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia
  7. Endocarditis
  8. Pulmonary hypertension
  9. Heart failure, where the heart is not able to effectively function and pump blood to all parts of the body.

Some or more of these symptoms should trigger a warning to get the child tested for congenital heart disease. While some would just require a monitoring until severe symptoms develop, severe conditions like holes, abnormal valves, narrowed arteries, and blood vessel abnormalities might require immediate intervention. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a cardiologist.

3325 people found this helpful

Acute Bronchitis - How Can It Be Possibly Treated?

MBBS Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, MD - General Medicine, FNIC, Fellowship in Diabetes Management
Internal Medicine Specialist, Gurgaon
Acute Bronchitis - How Can It Be Possibly Treated?

As we go about life and routine activities, we may be exposed to a lot of different types of environments. We may have to travel in heavy traffic and may be exposed to vehicular pollution, there may be times when we are at places that allow smoking and that may expose us to smoke from cigarettes. Our nature of work today requires us to be constantly in a situation where we take in industrial fumes and exhausts. Being in any of these conditions temporarily may not be a big matter of worry, but when the incidents get more frequent they may lead to troubles in breathing and diseases such as bronchitis or acute bronchitis.

Acute bronchitis is a condition in which the bronchial tube that carries air to and from the lungs gets inflamed due to different reasons. The biggest hazard related to the inflammation of the bronchial tube is that the patient may suffer from constant coughing and irritation of the throat putting pressure on the lungs. In advanced cases, a bronchial infection may also leave the nodes of the lungs inflamed, making it more difficult for the patients to breathe.

Causes of Acute Bronchitis:

  1. The most common causes of bronchitis include the infection of the bronchial tube with bacteria or virus, which lead to the inflammation of the tube and subsequent bouts of coughing.
  2. A habit of smoking cigarettes or being exposed to cigarette smoke as a passive smoker may lead to the infection of the bronchial tube.
  3. Vehicular smoke and fumes also lead to the inflammation and infection of the tube that plays an imminent role in supplying oxygen to the lungs.
  4. Finally, when one works in a position where he/she is exposed to chemicals or harmful exhausts on a constant basis may also have to suffer from acute bronchitis.

What is the treatment for acute bronchitis?

Bed rest and supportive care such as reducing coughing are the main treatments for acute bronchitis. In most individuals, antibiotics are not needed, especially those who have as cause viral or environmental factors. For some patients who have wheezing with their cough, beta2 agonists may be helpful (bronchodilators). Perhaps the most useful treatments are directed at reducing coughing symptoms with over the counter preparations containing guaifenesin and mucolytics. NSAIDs are often added to reduce inflammation and help relieve discomfort. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend giving OTC cough and cold medications to children under two years of age; these medicines may cause harmful side-effects that can be life-threatening to young children.

What natural or home remedies treat and cure acute bronchitis?

  • Stay well hydrated by drinking fluids
  • Breath humidified air
  • Avoid dairy products because they thicken mucous secretions
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine because of potential drug interactions
  • Avoid exposure to environmental smoke and other air pollutants

Popular Questions & Answers

I am suffering from allergic bronchitis with rhinitis. Symptoms are shortness of breath, blocked nose and mild chest pain occasionally. I have taken medicine but condition do not seem to improve. What is the best treatment for it?

MD - Pulmonary, DTCD
Pulmonologist, Faridabad
laba and ICS combination by inhalation with spacer, use INS for blocked nose with montelukast with levocetrizine combination as oral tab

I am suffering from Chronic Rhinosinusitis, Allergic Bronchitis. What not all upper respiratory ailments. It has been almost 20 yrs. Now I am on continuous medication -Antibiotics from past 2 mths. The moment I stop medicines, it relapses. Thick greenish phlegm expels ,too much of cough, nasal congestion. I do nasal douching two times a day, steam inhalation 3 times a day. Apply Mandls Paint for my throat. I do Betadine gargling 3 times a day. Do not eat cold and fried food from many years. My Master health check up is done and all diagnostics are normal including, my Absolute eosinophil, thyroid,cholesterol, Sugar,BP, Chest X ray all are normal I am not finding any solution. I am very upset as I feel there is no remedy.

MBBS, Diploma In Tropical Medicine Health, MRCP(UK)
Allergist/Immunologist, Hyderabad
Hi,You have been suffering for a long time with this chronic respiratory problem. you do not have to be so upset as you can be helped. as i do not know the results of respiratory function tests, x-ray chest, serum ige levels, iam not in a position to give you exact information. suggest you please see a good pulmonologist (chest physician) and a good allergist, you may be able to find a doctor who is trained in chest diseases and allergy and immunology.

My wife is a patient of asthmatic bronchitis. On 6th of may she suffered attack of dyspnea/hypoxia and was hospitalized. She was discharged recently and is on oxygen level 1-2. How to improve her lungs function to enable her to breathe naturally. On oxygen intake she shows 95 on oxymeter and without it she shows 85. Her pulse ranges from 95-110. Kindly advice.

MD - Pulmonary, DTCD
Pulmonologist, Faridabad
Reduce weight. Search for some other cause of breathlessness as in asthma after proper treatment of attack, oxygen returns to normal and in most cases do not require oxygen supplimentation
1 person found this helpful

I am 16 suffering from bronchitis asthma. From last 5 years I have this problem only in the due time of beginning of april for just 10 days but those 10 days are horrible for me. I want to cure ie permanently. Help?

For the cure of asthma, you need to be start on immunotherapy, this type of treatment is rare in India and costly. Take the prescribed inhalers for you daily.
1 person found this helpful

My son is suffering from bronchitis asthma since last two years and he is taking foracort rotacaps capsule on daily basis to control his asthma or I can say to control his cough. I want to know that long term use of these capsules is harmful for health or lungs. Pls advice some treatment or solution.

MD - Pulmonary, DTCD
Pulmonologist, Faridabad
Contains budesonide which a inhaled steroid can cause growth retardation in childrens. Bette rto use the minimum dose of inhaled steroid which will keep asthma under control and also minimizes chances of side effects.

Table of Content

What is Bronchitis?

What causes bronchitis?

Facts about bronchitis:

Treatment :

Play video
Childhood Diseases and their Homeopathic Management
Hi, I am Dr Chavvi Bansal. And I am practising homoeopathy in Homeopathy and wellness, Pitampura.

Today I would like to discuss Homeopathy and the various childhood diseases and Impact of homoeopathy in various childhood infections. As we know that children are more disposed to infections and they develop diseases readily because they have low immunity and they are more prone to infections. Homeopathy treatment works on the same and it boosts the child's immunity, not to take these infections and fight with them effectively. Commonly found childhood diseases are respiratory diseases are tonsillitis, prolonged bronchitis, prolonged cough, constipation, diarrhoea and gas problems. Children are also more prone to eczema and hives. Bedwetting is also one of the most common childhood diseases, but we have a good homoeopathic treatment for all such diseases.

Coming to the homoeopathic management.

Homeopathic medicines are not just mild and safe but also boosts the child's immunity. So, it basically makes the body immunity strong, so not to take infections or fight them effectively. Also, Children are very soft. Giving them hard medicines will not only affect them in a negative way but also hamper their growth. Hence, it is always advised to give them a homoeopathic treatment.

Homeopathy has given wonderful results on children diseases. It has also been found to increase the child's immunity to its best. It also helps to prevent surgery for adenoids and tonsillitis.

For more queries related to such problems, please feel free to contact me through Lybrate.
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