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 discoloured. 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).
CAUSES OF BRONCHITIS
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.
PREVENTION OF BRONCHITIS
To reduce risk of bronchitis, follow these simple tips.
- Avoid cigarette smoke
- Get vaccinated
- Wash your hands regularly
- If you have Chronic Obstructive pulmonary disease, you might consider wearing a mask at work and in crowds.
SYMPTOMS OF BRONCHITIS
For either acute bronchitis or chronic bronchitis, signs and symptoms may include
- Production of mucus, which can be clear, white, yellowish-grey or green in colour.
- Shortness of breath
- Slight fever and chills
- Chest discomfort.
TREATMENT OF BRONCHITIS
- ANTIBIOTICS: Bronchitis usually results from a viral infection, so antibiotics aren’t effective. However, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic if he or she suspects that you have a bacterial infection.
- COUGH MEDICINE: 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.
- OTHER MEDICATIONS: If you have allergies, asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, you doctor may recommend an inhaler and other medications to reduce inflammation and open narrowed passages in your lungs.