Bronchitis is a condition that causes inflammation in the lining of the bronchial tubes. The bronchial tubes are responsible for bringing air to and from the lungs. Bronchitis often causes symptoms such as a cough that contains a thick mucus, and may appear discolored. Bronchitis may be either acute or chronic. The most common cause of chronic bronchitis is smoking.
Acute bronchitis is very common. It often occurs after having a cold or other respiratory infection. On the other hand, chronic bronchitis is a more serious condition. It is a constant irritation or inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes. People who are smokers often develop chronic bronchitis.
Acute bronchitis may not always need significant treatment as it usually gets better within a few days. There are usually no long-lasting symptoms, except some people may have a cough for a few weeks. However, if you keep getting bronchitis, this may indicate that you have chronic bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis requires more serious treatment. Chronic bronchitis is a condition that is included in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also known as COPD.
The signs and symptoms of acute bronchitis or chronic bronchitis may include cough, production of mucus (which may be clear, white, yellowish-gray or green in color, and sometimes contain small amounts of blood), fatigue, shortness of breath, slight fever and chills, or chest discomfort.
There are a number of risk factors that increase your risk of bronchitis. These risk factors include:
· Smoking. People who smoke or who live with a smoker are at higher risk of both acute bronchitis and chronic bronchitis.
· Weak immune system. This may result from another acute illness, such as a cold, or from a chronic condition that compromises your immune system. Older adults, infants and young children have greater vulnerability to infection.
· Exposure to workplace irritants. Your risk of developing bronchitis is greater if you work around certain lung irritants, such as grains or textiles, or are exposed to chemical fumes.
· Gastric reflux. Repeated bouts of severe heartburn can irritate your throat and make you more prone to developing bronchitis.
Diagnosing bronchitis usually requires certain tests or examinations such as a chest X-ray, sputum tests, or a pulmonary function test. Treatment for bronchitis may include medications such as antibiotics, cough medicine, or other medications if you have asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Chronic bronchitis may require therapies such as pulmonary rehabilitation.