What is Bronchitis?
It is termed to be an infection and inflammation of the bronchial tube lining. The tubes swell as well as accumulate mucus, making it tough to breathe. There are two types, chronic and acute. The latter is a sudden result of flu virus or cold and causes dry cough lasting for about five days to three weeks. The cough might produce greenish, yellow or gray mucus. Chronic bronchitis occurs due to air pollution, allergies and cigarette smoking. It is considered to be an incurable, more serious lung disease that involves persistent coughing signalling structural changes within the bronchial system.
Since flu viruses and cold causes bronchitis, often the person experiences body aches, sore throat, chills, aches, running nose, congested sinuses or low fever. The person might develop cough in 3-4 days. It begins with dry cough, which with time results in becoming productive and loose, which means mucus can be felt in the throat while coughing. The other symptoms are:
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing spells
- Burning sensation and pain in chest
It is necessary to know if the person has contracted acute or chronic bronchitis. The doctor conducts physical exams on the patient and reviews his/her symptoms. To confirm the symptom of not being pneumonia, they might perform chest x-ray.
If the person experiences breathing problems and cough probably for few months or years, then it can be chronic bronchitis, which will require ongoing treatment. Few people are fortunate to avail successful treatment while others might suffer throughout their lives. It will require combination of lifestyle changes and medications. It is necessary to quit smoking, avoid things which might irritate the lungs, like dust, air pollution and second-hand smoke and to wash hands to avoid chances of infection.
To diagnose acute bronchitis, it will be essential to be examined by the doctor and answer correctly to the following questions:
- Duration of cough experienced?
- Is mucus being coughed up?
- Is blood noticed in sputum?
- Is wheezing experienced?
- Is there any symptom like chest tightness or fever?
- Was there cold prior to the cough?
- Was the person in contact with the other experiencing similar symptoms?
- Is there trouble faced while breathing?
While performing physical exam, the doctor will listen to the patient’s chest as he/she coughs. It is sufficient to diagnose and further tests will not be required.
If bronchitis is virus affected, then antibiotics will not be able to clear up this infection, as they are meant to fight only bacterial infections. Sputum tests might be recommended by the doctor to rule out fungal or bacterial infection. Medical experts are of the opinion that bronchitis is likely to clear by itself as noticed commonly. This is more so, if virus is the cause of bronchitis. Then treatment will not be necessary. However, cough might persist for few weeks. Since illness resolves by itself, minimalist approach needs to be taken upon noticing the symptoms. It will be necessary to stay hydrated all the time, especially when experiencing fever and to avoid medication, unless underlying complications are noticed like asthma.
Again if green or yellow mucus is noticed with cough, then there is no need to take concern. It indicates inflammation and not infection and can be expected to resolve by itself. But if mucus stays green or yellow for over 2-3 days, then the doctor needs to be visited. By that time, it is likely to become transparent or white indicating of getting healed.
Doctors may also recommend Entyvio as medication to treat chronic bronchitis. But one should be aware of the side effects of entyvio such as headache, sore throat, runny nose, rash, joint pain, back pain, pain in legs and arms, fever, nausea and fatigue.
Steamy, hot showers can provide relief to such symptoms. Inhaling steam does help to loosen mucus secretions within lungs. Adding some eucalyptus oil drops to water can also help open up airways. The other natural options are pine oil that can help to bring out mucus and peppermint oil comprising of menthol a natural decongestant. Consume spicy food comprising of cayenne pepper and chilli peppers. They help thin mucus. Astralagus and Echinacea herbs can help prevent viral and bacterial infections and boosts the immune system.