Bronchitis – Your 7 Health Questions Answered

The airways leading to the lungs are the trachea and the bronchi (Singular: bronchiole). These are internally lined with a mucus layer. This mucus is very important in the lung’s immune response as it is responsible for the trapping of any irritants that get in the airways and then helps in removing them via coughing. When inflammation of this inner mucus lining occurs, the condition is known as bronchitis. The mucus swells and thickens, restricting airflow, and is often caused by a respiratory infection.

When a pulmonologist in Lahore was investigated on the common questions and queries people face related to this common condition, here’s what we learned:

What are the types of bronchitis?

Bronchitis may either be acute or chronic. Both have different causes, treatments, and outcomes.

Acute bronchitis is like a chest cold. A cold, flu or other viral infection may be the cause of this bronchitis. The flu may trigger the production of excessive mucus. It may also less frequently be caused by a bacterial infection. tobacco smoke, smog, fumes, or dust may also trigger acute bronchitis. Most people do not need treatment for acute bronchitis.

Chronic bronchitis is serious with a persistent cough that does not go away. Long-time smoking may lead to constant irritation of the inner mucus lining. Excess mucus production clogs up the airways. Over the course of time, proper oxygenation of the blood is hindered leading to further complications, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

What common signs and symptoms of bronchitis we should know about?

Acute bronchitis presents with a persistent cough that lasts from three days to three weeks. Dripping nose, sore throat, body aches, fever, and chills, and in severe cases, shortness of breath may be observed.

Thick sputum production, shortness of breath, wheezing, and a cough that lasts over months are some of the symptoms of chronic bronchitis. High fever, breathlessness, chronic fatigue, and chest congestion are some of the other ones.

When should I see a doctor?

You should see a doctor if your cough prevents you from sleeping easily and lasts for more than a month. Other warning signs include a high-grade fever with a cough that has blood or discolored mucus coming out with it. It is also better to get yourself examined if you feel breathless to the point that it doesn’t feel normal anymore.

What tests are common to diagnose bronchitis?

A chest X-ray may be done to rule out any serious conditions. Infections may be checked for using blood tests. Pulmonary function tests and sputum tests will also be done occasionally to check your lung function and the microbial cause of your infection respectively. A physical exam to listen for wheezing in case of acute bronchitis may be done. In the case of chronic bronchitis, oxygen saturation levels are checked via a pulse oximeter.

Can bronchitis be deadly?

Acute bronchitis is usually not deadly. But, in rare cases, it may complicate towards pneumonia and respiratory failure, which are life-threatening. If you notice any of the symptoms stated above, it is better to visit a doctor.

How do I ease up my acute bronchitis?

It is necessary that you stay hydrated throughout the day and take plenty of rest. Over the counter painkillers may help relieve body aches and fever. To relieve yourself of that mucus, try a hot shower bath or use a humidifier to keep the air moist.

Cough medications such as guaifenesin may help cough up the mucus in your lungs. This is an expectorant. While going outdoors one should use a mask to avoid infecting others. Steam therapy is efficient. You can add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to your steam bowl which may help open the airways further. Rinsing out your nose and sinuses twice a day with a ansal spray de-clogs the nasal passages. Furthermore, limit the use of caffeine as they cause dehydration.

Final Thoughts

The best way to avoid bronchitis and the complications it may cause is to avoid getting a cold or flu in the first place. Make sure you adopt good hygiene habits and take a well balance diet to keep your immune system strong.

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