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Bronchitis is an acute inflammation of mucus lining (inner layer) of bronchioles (airways that carries air to lungs) caused by various reasons, including viral and bacterial infection. There may be swelling of the mucus lining with increased secretion. Cough is a reflex action of the body to throw out the excessive secretion. About 5% of the world’s population suffers from chronic bronchitis, and it is more prevalent in male populations than the female ones.
Causes of bronchitis:
- Bronchitis is mostly caused by either virus such as adenoviruses, influenza and rhinoviruses or bacterial infection by Streptococcus pneumoniae.
- Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Bordetella pertussis and Chlamydia pneumoniae
- Inhalation of chemical solvents
- Tobacco smoke
- Old Age and less immune people
- Allergy to pollens, dust, pesticides etc.
Types of bronchitis:
- Acute bronchitis (sudden onset of symptoms)
- Chronic bronchitis (may persist for 3months, up to 2 years)
Symptoms and signs of bronchitis:
- Discomfort in the chest or muscle pain
- Dry or phlegm producing cough for more than 2 weeks
- Wheezing (shortness of breath due to inflammation of airways)
- Asthmatic bronchitis (breathing uneasiness and wheezing together)
- Running nose
- Nasal congestion
- Low-grade fever
- Sore throat
- Feet and leg swelling
- Sometimes, blue lips due to lack of oxygen
Complications of bronchitis:
- Respiratory failure
- Cor pulmonale (weakness in right heart ventricle)
- Polycythemia (very high RBC concentration levels)
- Pneumothorax (lung collapse)
- Emphysema (abnormal accumulation of air in the air sacs of lungs)
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can lead to death
Diagnosis and analysis of bronchitis:
The health care provider notices the symptoms and does the examination of chest with stethoscope to check the presence of abnormal breathing sound such as rales or wheezing. In some case x-ray chest may be advised to confirm the diagnosis. A pulse oximetry may be used to measure the patient’s oxygen levels in the blood. Examination of the Arterial blood gases, namely oxygen and carbon dioxide levels are exactly measured. Other than this, microbiological analysis of the phlegm may be required to know the type of bacterial infection.
Treatments of bronchitis:
Usually, symptomatic treatment is provided in case of viral infection such as medication to control fever and muscle pain. Antibiotics may be added in cases of bacterial infection. In addition to that, humidifier or a mist vaporizer may be recommended for easing bronchial irritation. Take ample rest when you encounter bronchitis.
Prevention methods in bronchitis:
- Prevent visiting places filled with air pollutants
- Immediately quit smoking habit
- When you are liable to get exposed to allergens in work place (textile and chemical units), take steps to have proper protection against them
- Pneumococcal vaccines and flu vaccines should be taken under the guidance of a doctor.
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