Bronchitis is an inflammation of the lining of your bronchial tubes, which carry air to and from your lungs. Bronchitis can be broken down into acute or chronic and differ in the following way: Acute bronchitis is very common and commonly results from a cold, while chronic bronchitis, is defined as a productive cough that lasts at least 3 months for 2 consecutive years, and is often due to smoking.
What are the symptoms of bronchitis?
· Production of mucus
· Slight fever and chills
· Chest discomfort
When should you go see a doctor?
You should see your doctor if your cough does any of the following:
· Lasts more than 3 weeks
· Prevents you from sleeping
· Is accompanied by fever over 100.4 F
· Produces discolored mucus
· Produces blood
· Is associated with wheezing or shortness of breath
What causes bronchitis?
Acute bronchitis is usually caused by viruses, usually the same ones that cause common colds and the flu. On the other hand, chronic bronchitis is most often caused by smoking cigarettes, or air pollution, dust or other toxic gases in the environment.
There are also several risk factors which increase the likelihood of getting bronchitis such as:
· Cigarette smoke
· Low immune resistance
· Exposure to irritants on the job
What treatments are available for bronchitis?
Although doctors may prescribe antibiotics for a bronchitis infection, these are not usually effective as bronchitis is more often caused by a viral infection, not a bacterial one. Treatment of bronchitis therefore usually consists of relieving the symptoms of the infection and making breathing easier. Some of these treatments include:
· Getting more rest
· Taking over-the-counter pain medications or cough medicine
· Drinking fluids
· Breathing in warm, moist air
You can also do a number of things in your everyday life to reduce your risk of bronchitis. These measures include:
· Avoiding lung irritants: wear a mask when the air is polluted or if you're exposed to irritants, such as paint or household cleaners with strong fumes
· Using a humidifier: warm, moist air helps relieve coughs and loosens mucus in your airways
· Wearing a face mask outdoors in cold weather: cold air aggravates a cough and causes shortness of breath
· Getting vaccinated: many cases of acute bronchitis result from the flu virus, so get your yearly flu vaccine to help protect against the flu
· Washing your hands: washing your hands frequently can reduce your risk of viral infection, including bronchitis.