Bronchitis: You can prevent it, its in your hands!

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchi, the tubes/pathways that carry air to & fro from the lungs. The disease is characterized by a constant cough & sputum/mucus.

Bronchitis can be basically classified as acute of chronic, but it has various more classification:

  1. Acute: It is a short term inflammation of the bronchi, characterized by a cough, sputum may or may not be present, & a mild fever, if present. The infection may last for a maximum of 10 days, however the symptoms can persist till 3 weeks, the infection above all is due to a viral infection.
  2. Chronic: Defined as a constant productive cough, along with an overproduction of mucus, cough in chronic bronchitis can last from 3 months to upto two years. COPD is a comorbidity that is associated with it. The condition is usually caused due to exposure to smoke. 
  3. Eosinophilic bronchitis is a chronic dry cough, defined by the presence of an increased number of WBC’s called eosinophils.
  4. Protracted bacterial bronchitis is a chronic productive cough in children usually resolved by antibiotics.
  5. Aspergillus bronchitis, in which the bronchi are victim to fungal infection by the fungus, Aspergillus.

SIGNS & SYMPTOMS

  • Cough that lasts for more than 10 days
  • Cough along with mucus
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath & breathing problems
  • Chest discomfort
  • Mild fever
  • Overproduction of mucus
  • Yellow or green mucus
  • Blood in mucus
  • Fatigue
  • Redness of the throat

CAUSES & RISK FACTORS OF BRONCHITIS

  • Viral & bacterial infection in acute bronchitis
  • Smoking
  • Exposure to excessive smoke in chronic bronchitis
  • Smoking of tobacco or cannabis
  • Inhalation of industrial smoke, in coal mines, air pollutants, chemical hazards, metal molding, etc
  • Sulfur & nitrogen dioxide.
  • Acid reflux
  • Low immunity of lungs
  • TB or Pneumonia

COMPLICATIONS

  • Chronic Bronchitis is usually associated with COPD.¬†
  • Most patients with chronic bronchitis have COPD, although not every patient with COPD have chronic bronchitis.
  • Emphysema
  • Asthma
  • Reducing quality of lungs.
  • Inability to perform heavy physical activities.

DIAGNOSIS FOR BRONCHITIS

  1. Physical examination of the symptoms presented like, nature of cough, presence of sputum if any, its consistency & color, similarly presence of chest pain.
  2. Chest X-Ray to check whether something is wrong with the lungs, & for differential diagnosis of TB, pneumonia, COPD, etc.
  3. Sputum test to check for the presence of TB bacteria for differential diagnosis, after that to check for the consistency & color of the sputum, therefore it can be determined if the infection is treatable by antibiotics.
  4. Pulmonary function test, a patient is made to blow into a device called a spirometer, to check for the air holding capacity of the lungs & to rule out asthma.

TREATMENT

  • Medications like paracetamol, aspirin, etc.
  • OTC cough syrup
  • Drugs like relax the bronchi & air pathway, called bronchodilators.
  • Expectorants/Mucolytics, drugs that clear mucus, & reduce its secretion
  • Oxygen therapy

PREVENTION & MANAGEMENT OF BRONCHITIS

  • Using humidifiers, warm moist air relieves cough & loosens the mucus.
  • Drinking plenty of warm water
  • Rest¬†
  • Gargles
  • Honey has showed evidence for relieving symptoms
  • Cutting off smoking
  • Wearing a mask in pollution
  • Staying clear of industrial, chemical or toxic exhaust
  • Meditation.