Bronchitis is an inflammation of the lining of your bronchial tubes, which carry air to and from your lungs. People who have Bronchitis often cough up thickened mucus, which can be discolored. Bronchitis may be either acute or chronic.
Often developing from a cold or other respiratory infection, acute Bronchitis is very common. Chronic Bronchitis, a more serious condition, is a constant irritation or inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, often due to smoking.
Acute Bronchitis usually improves within a few days without lasting effects, although you may continue to cough for weeks. However, if you have repeated bouts of Bronchitis, you may have chronic Bronchitis, which requires medical attention. Chronic Bronchitis is one of the conditions included in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
For either acute Bronchitis or chronic Bronchitis, signs and symptoms may include:
Acute Bronchitis is usually caused by viruses, typically the same viruses that cause colds and Flu (Influenza). Antibiotics don’t kill viruses, so this type of medication isn’t useful in most cases of Bronchitis.
The most common cause of chronic Bronchitis is smoking cigarettes. Air pollution and dust or toxic Gases in the environment or workplace also can contribute to the condition.
Factors that increase your risk of Bronchitis include:
. People who smoke or who live with a smoker are at higher risk of both acute Bronchitis and chronic Bronchitis.
. This may result from another acute illness, such as a cold, or from a chronic condition that compromises your immune system. Older adults, infants and young children have greater vulnerability to infection.
Exposure to irritants on the job.
Your risk of developing Bronchitis is greater if you work around certain lung irritants, such as grains or textiles, or are exposed to chemical fumes.
Repeated bouts of severe Heartburn can irritate your throat and make you more prone to developing Bronchitis.
Although a single episode of Bronchitis usually isn’t cause for concern, it can lead to Pneumonia in some people. Repeated bouts of Bronchitis may indicate that you’re developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
TREATMENTS AND DRUGS
Most cases of acute Bronchitis resolve without medical treatment in two weeks.
In some circumstances, your doctor may prescribe medications, including:
. Bronchitis usually results from a viral infection, so antibiotics aren’t effective. However, your doctor might prescribe an antibiotic if he or she suspects that you have a bacterial infection.
. It’s best not to suppress a cough that brings up mucus, because coughing helps remove irritants from your lungs and air passages. If your cough keeps you from sleeping, you might try cough suppressants at bedtime.
. If you have Allergies, Asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), your doctor may recommend an inhaler and other medications to reduce inflammation and open narrowed passages in your lungs.
If you have chronic Bronchitis, you may benefit from pulmonary rehabilitation — a breathing exercise program in which a respiratory therapist teaches you how to breathe more easily and increase your ability to exercise.
LIFESTYLE AND HOME REMEDIES
To reduce your risk of Bronchitis, follow these tips: