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Last Updated: Sep 04, 2019
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Bronchitis Quick Overview With Symptoms, Causes, & Treatment

What is Bronchitis? What are the Symptoms Of Bronchitis? What Causes Bronchitis? What are the Precautions For Bronchitis? How is Bronchitis Diagnosed? What is the Best Treatment for Bronchitis? What is the Best Home Remedy for Bronchitis? How Long Does It Take To Recover From Bronchitis?

What is Bronchitis?

Bronchitis is a lung or respiratory disorder caused by viruses, bacteria or other particles where bronchial tubes gets inflamed or swelled. This condition restricts the movement of air between the mouth and nose and the lungs. In such condition, it is very difficult to breathe as the air passage gets packed with mucus or phlegm. In bronchitis disease, bronchi gets affected in which infection irritates it and it makes usually high amount of mucus that is tried to remove through coughing process.

This disease can be either acute or chronic in nature where inflammation of airways last for up to three weeks or three months to two year timeframe respectively. Cigarette smoker are more susceptible for bronchitis like respiratory diseases causing one serious condition of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Generally, acute bronchitis is also known as chest cold occurring due to cold or viral infection and after treatment it does not cause any future problems.

What are the Symptoms Of Bronchitis?

Bronchitis is divided in two types as acute bronchitis and chronic bronchitis depending upon its period of time and effects but there are some common signs and symptoms between them:

  • Only cough or cough with mucus or phlegm that looks like white, clear, yellowish-gray or greenish in color.
  • Discomfort or congestion in chest with shortness of breath
  • During breathing whistling or wheezing sound
  • Sore throat
  • Blocked or runny stuffy nose
  • Body pain and chills with fever
  • Headaches and fatigue

There are some different symptoms observed in acute bronchitis which are similar to flu condition like headaches, body aches, tightening in chest etc. and in some cases like children, due to increased mucus, vomiting occurs. On other side, a person suffering from chronic bronchitis experiencing signs like wheezing, persistent cough with build-up amount of phlegm, recurring chest infections, breathing difficulties. This chronic bronchitis carries productive cough for the longer period of time.

What Causes Bronchitis?

In respiratory system, trachea and bronchi are essential for air transfer from mouth and nose to lungs where bronchi is further divided in to small and small airway of lungs called as bronchioles. These bronchioles and bronchi get affected b viruses, bacteria or other particles making damage to the lungs and airways tissues.

If symptoms are similar to flu and coughing lasts for several days, it is acute bronchitis. The reasons behind the inflammation in acute bronchitis are tobacco smoke inhalation, dust, fumes, vapors and air pollution. Smoking in any form is most common reason behind the occurrence of chronic bronchitis as well as other factors like long term exposure to air pollution, dust, fumes, and repeated episodes of acute bronchitis.

Sometimes other environmental or physical factors like gastric reflux causing severe heartburn also irritates throat and making it more prone to bronchitis and working at place that have exposure to lung irritants such as grains or textile mills or chemical fume leading to bronchitis.

What are the Precautions For Bronchitis?

As a preventive measure of bronchitis, following are some points:

  • It is mandatory to avoid cigarette smoking as it causes damage to the lungs and risking towards bronchitis.
  • Vaccines are advised for flu, pneumonia like diseases which are also reason behind occurrence of bronchitis.
  • It is also advised to maintain hygiene of body as washing hands frequently with essential sanitizers or soaps prevent against risk of catching viral infection.
  • Use of facial masks to avoid spreading of infection as well as exposure to dust or fumes if visiting any places which are crowded.
  • Avoid visiting such areas where person smokes or lung irritants are detected.
  • Residential places where diesel-power plants or busy roads should be avoided because it doubles the risk of chronic bronchitis.

How is Bronchitis Diagnosed?

Patient’s medical history is asked as well as physical examination with the use of stethoscope will be done by medical professional to find out any abnormal sounds in the lungs. Further questions about coughing, flu like symptoms, exposure to dust or fume etc. are asked by doctor and followed by below mentioned tests:

  • Chest X-ray- If a smoker is facing bronchitis disorder than x-rays are very important to identify the presence of pneumonia or other conditions.
  • Sputum tests- Mucus sample collected from patient is tested for signs or allergies.
  • Pulmonary function test- With the use of spirometer, pulmonary function test is performed that measures condition of air passage.

What is the Best Treatment for Bronchitis?

People with suffering from symptoms like coughing for more than 3 weeks or mucus with blood, fever lasted for more than 3 days, chest pain or recurring bronchitis are recommended for treatment of OTC cough suppressants, bronchodilators, mucolytic, antibiotics etc. Below are some treatment plans suitable for bronchitis:

  • Cough medicine- they are useful to bring up mucus and removal of irritants from the lungs through coughing.
  • Bronchodilators- they are agents which are dilating bronchial tubes and helps in removal of mucus present in lungs or air passages.
  • Mucolytic- They are acting on mucus by thinning or un- bounding it from the air passages.
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation- With the use of such program, patients experienced improved breathing patterns.
  • Oxygen therapy- In this therapy, oxygen intake is increased by supplying it that helps in dealing breathlessness like condition.
  • Antibiotics- If bronchitis has occurred due to bacterial infection, then certain antibiotics are prescribed by medical professional.

For chronic bronchitis, patients are prescribed for oral or inhaled steroids, yearly flu and/or pneumonia vaccination.

What is the Best Home Remedy for Bronchitis?

Some behavioral remedies are suggested for people suffering from bronchitis as mentioned below:

  • Avoid activities that irritate the lung or interfere in lungs function.
  • Drink lots of water as it can help in losing up the mucus stick to airways.
  • Humidifiers and hot shower are useful in dealing with symptoms like limited airflow or wheezing. It is highly advised to clean properly the humidifier as it may have growth of fungi or bacteria if left un-cleaned.
  • Perform certain exercise that can help in breathing patterns as well as strengthens the muscles of the respiratory system.
  • Don't perform such activities that cause rise in breathing.

How Long Does It Take To Recover From Bronchitis?

Bronchitis is categorised in acute bronchitis and chronic bronchitis. Acute bronchitis is normally occurring because of infections or exposure to dust, chemical fumes or any other lung irritant resulting into inflammation of the airways of lungs. Cough lasting for 3-4 days in dry form and converting into cough with mucus remains for three to four weeks.

The treatment plan should be followed in the manner as prescribed and acute bronchitis went away in 3-4 weeks if lungs are not much damaged and working properly. A cigarette smoker is at higher risk of occurring chronic bronchitis as it have cough with mucus or phlegm and sometimes blood, too.

Once treatment is started and followed properly, then chronic bronchitis needs recovery time-period of minimum three months to two constructive years.

Popular Questions & Answers

My 5 years old daughter is using budecort 100 inhaler. How do I know whether she has bronchitis or asthma or wheezing. Her symptoms include severe cough blocked nose .will she be normal after correct medication. Kindly let me know.

MD - Pulmonary, DTCD
Pulmonologist, Faridabad
How long and how frequent. Any history of atopy. Any family history of allergy. Need xray chest, haemogram and if possible pft to decide the diagnosis. Children do out grow of their symtoms by age of 15 years in 50% cases.

I am 46 suffering from allergic rhinitis & bronchitis since childhood. Allergic to mites & wheat dust. Take allegra & inhalers. Get up in d night sneezing. Please help.

MBBS, MD TUBERCULOSIS AND CHEST DISEASES, Diploma in Tuberculosis & Chest Diseases, Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Pulmonologist, Kolkata
face mask will be helpful. allergic rhinitis is very effectively treated by steroid nasal spray like flomistand Asthma to be treated by ICS LABA over prolonged period.
2 people found this helpful

I have bronchitis in general when weather changes. I am having some shortness of breathe which woke me midnight with little of heavy chest. I have been having cold water and sleeping in ac. I generally take luckotas hd. I am also on niftas 100 mg for a uti. Please advice.

MD - Pulmonary, DTCD
Pulmonologist, Faridabad
LIKLY ALLERGIC ASTHMA. PFT to confirm. If asthma confirmed better to start LABA and ICS combination by inhalation with spacer
13 people found this helpful

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