Bronchitis symptoms, causes and treatment

Bronchitis is a kind of respiratory sickness where a person’s bronchial tubes, the carrier of the air to the person’s lungs, get swollen or inflamed. When a person has bronchitis, they experience severe and nagging cough with mucus. 

Table of Medications

Overview of bronchitis

For bronchitis, there are two types, acute bronchitis, and chronic bronchitis. Acute bronchitis is the most common and is the most commonly experienced by people. The symptoms usually last for a few weeks but do not cause any problems more than what is being experienced. The other type, called chronic bronchitis, is considered more serious. This one keeps recurring and does not go away immediately. 

Symptoms of bronchitis

Both acute bronchitis and chronic bronchitis share the same symptoms, which include problems in breathing. Some of the most common symptoms are feeling congestion in your chest area, or when you feel your chest as full and clogged; coughing up mucus that is either clear, yellow, green or white; feeling shortness in breathing, and hearing or experiencing wheezing or whistling sounds while you are breathing. 

Moreover, the symptoms of acute bronchitis also include low fever, runny and stuffy nose, body aches and chills, sore throat, and feeling that your body is wiped out. 

It also should be noted that even after all the other symptoms of acute bronchitis have disappeared, a person can still experience a cough that might last for more than a few weeks while the person’s bronchial tubes are healing and the swelling is slowly going down. If, in any case, the symptoms last for much longer than the said time, the problem might not be acute bronchitis and can be something else. 

For the case of chronic bronchitis, a person’s cough might last for at least three months and have the possibility to come back in 2 years in a row. 

Main Causes of Bronchitis

Viruses are usually the leading cause of acute bronchitis, which is similar to the viruses that cause colds and flu when a person is experiencing influenza. Antibiotics can not kill these viruses, so this type of medicine is not useful in the most common causes of bronchitis. 

One of the most common causes of the 2nd type of bronchitis or chronic bronchitis is smoking of a cigarette. Being exposed to air pollution, toxic gases, or even dust in a person’s environment or workplace is also one of the major contributors to the condition. 

Diagnosis and Treatment for Bronchitis

Your doctor or physician will be the one to carry out a physical examination to you by using a stethoscope to listen if there are any unusual sounds in your lungs. Aside from the physical examination, the doctor will also recommend different laboratory examinations like chest x-rays, blood tests, and pulmonary lung function tests; take a sputum swab test that will be used in the determination of the bacteria and viruses, and check your oxygen level in your blood.

Aside from that, the doctor will also interview and ask the person experiencing the symptoms of bronchitis about the person’s medical history, recent symptoms being experienced. Especially about the cough, about any recent bouts of cold and flu, about their exposure to secondhand smoke, fumes, air pollution or dust, and whether the person smokes. 

Treatment for Bronchitis

Your physician will advise you to take all the rest you need to be able to recover from bronchitis. Aside from that, you will also be advised to increase your fluid intake and to take in over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen. Taking in over-the-counter medications will be a great help in relieving coughs and ease any pain accompanying it. Over time, acute bronchitis will disappear, even without treatment. 

On the other hand, for chronic bronchitis, the symptoms might resolve itself or improve after some time, but these will return and come back worse, most especially if the person is exposed to a considerable amount of smoke and other triggers. 

In treating bronchitis, several options can be considered by the patients. One of the most important and options is cough medicine. Cough medications can be useful for removing the mucus in a person’s bronchial tubes, and it can help bring relief from coughing, especially during the night. Cough medications are available at the nearest pharmacy in your area. It is also available for online purchases. 

The patient can also try taking in two spoonfuls of honey. This brings relief to the symptoms of the cough being experienced by the patient. 

In using a humidifier, the patient’s mucous can loosen. Aside from that, it can also help improve the airflow and relieve the patient from the wheezing he is experiencing. 

The patient can also try to use the bronchodilators, which free up the bronchial tubes and might help clear out the mucus inside. There is also the mucolytics that the patient can use, which loosen or make the mucus in the patient’s airway thinner, making it very easy to cough up the sputum.

Anti-inflammatory and some steroid drugs are a huge help to reduce the inflammation in the bronchial tubes that cause damages in the tissues. 

In very severe cases, the patient has to use oxygen therapy to be able to supplement oxygen when the patient is in need. Aside from providing supplemental oxygen, this also helps in easing the breathing of the patient. 

Aside from the main treatment that a patient can use, there are also several behavioral remedies and strategies that a patient can use in treating bronchitis. This includes removing the irritant in the lungs, just like, smoking; improving the patient’s breathing technique through the pulmonary rehabilitation, exercising to be able to strengthen the muscles in the chest to be able to help with the breathing, and performing breathing exercises just like breathing in the pursed-lip. Which can help the breathing slow down and make it more effective. 

Use of Antibiotics for Bronchitis

If in case acute bronchitis comes from a certain bacterial infection, the patient’s doctor might prescribe some antibiotics. In this case, taking in antibiotics is a big help in preventing the emergence of secondary infections. However, it must be reminded to everyone that these antibiotics are not very suitable for patients whose bronchitis was caused by a virus. 

Most physicians will never prescribe antibiotics until they have already identified that the root cause of the illness is bacteria. This is due to the main concern of the doctors about antibiotic resistance or the over usage of antibiotics that makes the bacteria immune to the antibiotic, which results in the harder treatment of the infection in the long term.

Bronchitis prevention in normal conditions.

To be able to reduce the risk of having bronchitis, there are tips that people should follow and do. One of which is to avoid smoking cigarettes as this increases the risk of chronic bronchitis.

Getting vaccinated is also one of the options to protect yourselves from bronchitis. In a lot of cases, acute bronchitis springs from having influenza, a virus. By getting yearly vaccines against flu can help protect the patient not only from flu but also from another sickness that springs from the flu. You can also try to vaccinate yourself with vaccines against pneumonia. 

Washing your hands always is excellent protection for yourself. It reduces the risk of catching any viral infection, especially if partnered with the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers. 

Wearing surgical masks, especially when outdoors, reduces the risk of exposing yourself to dust or fumes. This also reduces the risk of acquiring air-borne viruses when you are among the crowds, or when you are traveling. 

Risks of having Bronchitis

Certain factors in a patient’s environment increase the risk of a person having bronchitis. One of which is the smoking of a cigarette. People who are smoking or who are living with other people that smoke are more prone to have both acute bronchitis and chronic bronchitis. 

If a person has a weak immune system or has a low resistance, this makes him vulnerable to other acute illnesses like colds. The elderly, infants, and children are more susceptible to illnesses and infections since they have a weaker immune system.

If your job is exposed to specific lung irritants like textiles or grains, or other certain chemical fumes, you are at a higher risk of developing bronchitis.

Severe heartburns, especially if repeated, can cause the irritation of the throat, which makes you more prone to having bronchitis. 

Complications for Bronchitis

Most of the time, bronchitis is not usually a cause of concern for people since this goes away after a few weeks. However, severe bronchitis can lead to pneumonia to some people, and repeated bronchitis might mean that the person has a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. 

Seeking medical attention for bronchitis.

Most of the time, people who suffer from bronchitis recover at home as long as there are plenty of rest, anti-inflammatory medication, and increased fluid intake. However, sometimes, these tricks are not enough. A patient is advised to see his physician or doctor when he is experiencing a cough that has been going on for more than three weeks, a fever that lasts three days or even longer, rapid breathing or chest pains or both, presence of blood in their mucus, confusion, and drowsiness and recurring and even worsening symptoms of bronchitis. 

For people with existing lung and heart conditions, MUST see the doctor immediately.