What is Bronchitis?
Bronchitis is an inflammation of the lining of your bronchial tubes, which carry air to and from your lungs. People who have bronchitis often cough up thickened mucus, which can be discolored. Bronchitis may be either acute or chronic.
Often developing from a cold or other respiratory infection, acute bronchitis is very common. Chronic bronchitis, a more serious condition, is a constant irritation or inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, often due to smoking.
Acute bronchitis, also called a chest cold, usually improves within a week to 10 days without lasting effects, although the cough may linger for weeks.
However, if you have repeated bouts of bronchitis, you may have chronic bronchitis, which requires medical attention. Chronic bronchitis is one of the conditions included in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
What causes Bronchitis?
The bronchitis infection can be caused by either a virus or bacteria, although viral bronchitis is much more common.
In most cases, acute bronchitis is caused by the same viruses that cause the common cold or flu (influenza). The virus is contained in the millions of tiny droplets that come out of the nose and mouth when someone coughs or sneezes.
The most common cause of chronic bronchitis is cigarette smoking. Air pollution and dust or toxic gases in the environment or workplace also can contribute to the condition.
What are the symptoms of Bronchitis?
For either acute bronchitis or chronic bronchitis, signs and symptoms may include:
- Production of mucus (sputum), which can be clear, white, yellowish-gray or green in colour — rarely, it may be streaked with blood
- Shortness of breath
- Slight fever and chills
- Chest discomfort
How is Bronchitis Diagnosed?
- Chest X-ray. A chest X-ray can help determine if you have pneumonia or another condition that may explain your cough. This is especially important if you ever were or currently are a smoker.
- Sputum tests. Sputum is the mucus that you cough up from your lungs. It can be tested to see if you have illnesses that could be helped by antibiotics. Sputum can also be tested for signs of allergies.
- Pulmonary function test. During a pulmonary function test, you blow into a device called a spirometer, which measures how much air your lungs can hold and how quickly you can get air out of your lungs. This test checks for signs of asthma or emphysema.
Management of Bronchitis
Because most cases of bronchitis are caused by viral infections, antibiotics aren’t effective. However, if your doctor suspects that you have a bacterial infection, they may prescribe an antibiotic.
Chronis Bronchitis is treated in the same way as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Stopping smoking is very important
Doctors use several kinds of medications to treat the symptoms and complications of chromic brochitis. You may take some medications on a regular basis and others as needed.
Physiotherapists can apply a range of therapy techniques and advice to manage your symptoms and maintain the best possible level of lung function and comfort. They can also advise on activity modification to make daily living easier. Along with advice for you and your family on appropriate self-management techniques to maximise your functional ability between therapy sessions.