Bronchitis refers to the inflammation of the mucus membranes of the bronchial passageways.
Bronchitis can be acute or chronic. Acute bronchitis is short in duration and lasts for three weeks. It is caused by a viral infection and may be spread airborne or by direct contact when people cough. On the other hand, chronic bronchitis has longer duration and it lasts for three months or more every year for at least two years.
Bronchitis, along with emphysema, is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which is the third lead cause of mortality in the United States in 2008, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The publication added that among Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) respondents in the United States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, 6.3 percent revealed that they had been told by a doctor or other health professional that they had had COPD and 76 percent reported that the had received a diagnostic breathing test, 64. 2 percent had said that shortness of breath had affected the quality of their lives, and 55.6 percent had revealed that they had been taking at least one medication for the condition.
Bronchitis is usually caused by exposure to dust and tobacco smoke, in addition to air pollution. Thus, those people who work in companies of grains and textiles are at risk, according to Mayo Clinic. As per the publication, people who have low resistance such as those who have colds or a chronic condition are vulnerable, along with infants, younger children, and older adults. In addition, the condition can also be inherited.
Signs and Symptoms
Acute and chronic bronchitis both share the common signs and symptoms, as per Medical News Today. As per the publication, the usual signs and symptoms of bronchitis include persistent cough that may cause wheezing, sore throat, mucus, breathlessness, chest tightening, low fever and chills, blocked nose and sinuses, body aches, and headaches. It is added that cough, the main symptoms of acute bronchitis, may last for several weeks to several months.
To help with the diagnosis, doctors usually use stethoscope and listen for any abnormal lung sounds. Also, the mucus and the blood can be checked for culture and oxygen levels, along with chest X-ray and pulmonary lung function tests.
Bronchitis is managed with plain conventional measures, which include increased oral fluid intake, adequate rest, avoidance of smoke and fumes, and medication intake, including bronchodilators and cough syrup, according to Web MD. As per the publication, oral steroids can also be prescribed to decrease inflammation and supplemental oxygen may be administered to boost oxygen levels in the blood.
Antibiotics are not the drugs of choice for people who have normal lungs, no chronic health conditions, and those who have viral-caused bronchitis. Cough suppressants may also be prescribed for those who have productive cough, which persists for two to three weeks and distracts a person’s sleep. Also, aspirin or acetaminophen is prescribed for pain or discomfort; however, the drug is not given to children below 19 years old due to the risk of having Reye’s syndrome.
Pneumonia is one of the complications of bronchitis, due to the presence of mucus in the bronchial passageways. To prevent this complication, it is recommended to receive vaccinations like influenza and pneumoccocal. According to Web MD, having a dose of pneumoccoccal vaccine like PPSV23 will help a person become protected from a usual type of bacterial pneumonia until 65 years old. A booster follows sooner if the person experiences other medical conditions.
With the aforementioned information on bronchitis management, it is advisable to contact one’s physician if symptoms like chronic cough are present.