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Bronchitis

Elderly man and women on couch | Healthier Me TodayBronchitis symptoms. acute bronchitis symptoms and chronic bronchitis symptoms include inflammation of the air passages between the nose and the lungs — including the windpipe (trachea) and the larger air tubes of the lungs (bronchi). The main airways branch off on either side of the windpipe. The main airways lead to smaller airways called bronchioles inside the lung. The walls of the main airways produce mucous to trap dust and other particles.

Bronchitis happens due to an infection that irritates and inflames the airways leading to more mucous production than usual. The body tries to rid itself of the excess mucous, causing the persistent cough. Acute bronchitis is one of the top ten most common illnesses seen in the US among outpatients. Each year about 5% of adults have an episode of acute bronchitis. In 2018, around 9 million adults, or 3.6% of those aged 18 and above, had chronic bronchitis. It was seen that the rates were greater in non-Hispanic whites, more so in women than in men, and in those above 65 years of age.

Types of Bronchitis

Acute Bronchitis Symptoms and Chronic Bronchitis Symptoms and Types of Bronchitis!

When bronchitis occurs for a brief duration, it is called acute bronchitis. In the case of a long course of infection, it is called chronic bronchitis symptoms. Acute bronchitis is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection and can heal without complications. Acute bronchitis is a temporary infection and usually lasts up to 3 weeks. It can affect people of all ages but mostly happens in children below five years of age. It usually occurs after a common cold, a sore throat, or the flu.

Several environmental factors, like smoke or pollution and other lung conditions, are also responsible for acute bronchitis. Viruses cause 85-95% of acute bronchitis cases in adults. Sometimes, bacterial bronchitis may develop after a viral infection of bronchitis. This happens due to the bacteria that causes whooping cough being present (e.g. Mycoplasma pneumonia, Chlamydia pneumonia, Bordetella pertussis). In addition, smoke, smog, or chemical fumes are irritants and pollutants that may cause inflammation in the trachea and bronchial tube, leading to acute bronchitis.

In the case of showing chronic bronchitis types and symptoms, a daily cough is seen that may last from three months of the year to two years in a row. Chronic bronchitis is also known as a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and this condition is not curable. However, symptoms can be treated using oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation, surgery, or a combination of these treatments. Chronic bronchitis usually affects adults over the age of 40.

Bronchitis Symptoms – Acute and Chronic Bronchitis Symptoms

  1. The main acute bronchitis symptoms are a persistent, wheezing cough with a yellow-grey or greenish mucous. Sometimes, the cough may last for several months if the bronchial tubes take a long time to heal fully.
  2. Low fever and chills
  3. Sore throat and body aches
  4. Chest tightening
  5. Breathlessness and tiredness
  6. Headaches and blocked sinuses

Diagnosing Bronchitis – Bronchitis Symptoms and Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about the bronchitis symptoms, the medical history of the patient, and whether they have had a recent episode of a cold or the flu. They would also need to know if they smoke or have been exposed to dust, fumes, or air pollution. Then, the practitioner would check the lungs for unusual breathing sounds using a stethoscope.

They may also test the oxygen levels in the blood, test their mucous, and may recommend a chest x-ray. The doctor may also recommend a pulmonary lung function test or more blood tests.

Treatment and Bronchitis Management

In most cases, bronchitis symptoms ease down on their own after a few days. However, in the case of bronchitis caused by a bacterial infection, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics. If you are prescribed antibiotics, it is likely to be a 5-day course of amoxicillin or doxycycline. If you have conditions like asthma, allergies, or wheezing, the doctor might prescribe an inhaler. These inhalable medicines are called bronchodilators, or steroids, which open up the airways and make breathing easier.

Some lifestyle changes can help ease the symptoms if you have chronic bronchitis. Examples would be eating a healthy diet, regular and moderate exercise, and avoiding smoking. Drinking about 8-12 glasses of water a day helps thin out the mucous and makes it easier to cough out. Getting plenty of rest and taking pain relievers would soothe high fever and body aches. Humidifiers, steam, and hot showers might help loosen up the cough. Take cough medicines as an expectorant to loosen up the mucous to make it easy to cough out.

Pneumonia is a common complication seen in bronchitis. When the infection spreads further into the lungs, it causes fluid to fill up in the tiny air-sacs inside. About 1 in 20 cases of bronchitis lead to pneumonia. This condition is prominent among the elderly, people who smoke, people with underlying health conditions, and a weak immune system.


FAQ

  1. Why is my bronchitis symptoms not going away? It may take a few weeks for bronchitis to go away. However, if it doesn’t stop after a few months, you may have chronic bronchitis and should speak to a medical professional to assess that.
  2. Why do I get bronchitis so often? Your body may be getting exposed to the virus or bacteria that causes it, whether because you’re in a high-risk area and you have a weakened immune system. If your bronchitis keeps reoccurring multiple times a year or annually, talk to your doctor about the possibility of you having chronic bronchitis.
  3. What can I do to reduce my risk of having bronchitis? Simple lifestyle habits like not smoking or washing your hands are helpful to protect yourself. Getting a yearly flu vaccine and communities wearing masks when sick can help stop the spread.
  4. Is acute bronchitis contagious? Yes, it is since it can be viral.
  5. What causes chronic bronchitis, and how do I manage it? It is mainly caused by cigarette smoking and toxic fume exposure, like air pollution. It can be controlled by quitting smoking, staying away from airborne irritants, taking inhalable and oral medicines, and doing pulmonary rehab. In more extreme cases, patients will elect to have surgeries like lung transplants and the removal of damaged parts of the lungs.
  6. How long does it take to recover from chronic bronchitis? It lasts at least three months in a year but is a lifelong condition. There may be some periods during the year where one may not experience symptoms of it, though there is no cure, and it reoccurs annually. However, lifestyle changes can be made to manage it easily.

Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment. Always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!

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