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:

  • Cough
  • Production of mucus (sputum), which can be clear, white, yellowish-gray or green in colour — rarely, it may be streaked with blood
  • Fatigue
  • 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.

Smoking Cessation

Stopping smoking is very important

Medication

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.

Therapy

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.

What would physiotherapy treatment for acute or chronic bronchitis involve?

At Respiratory Physiotherapy Ireland, Our physiotherapists will ensure you receive specialised treatment for your bronchitis (acute or chronic) Depending on the severity and type of your bronchitis, your treatment may involve:

  • Secretion clearance:
    • Active Cycle of Breathing
    • Autogenic Drainage
    • Positive Expiratory Pressure (PEP)
    • Oscillating positive expiratory pressure
    • Effective / productive coughing techniques.
    • Postural drainage in sitting and lying.
    • Manual techniques, including percussion and vibrations
  • Breathing techniques:
    • Controlling respiratory rate
    • Diaphragmatic breathing
    • Relaxation breathing exercises
  • Education and Advice:
    • Illness cause and progression.
    • Effects of environmental and allergen factors, including smoking.
    • Medication management
  • Exercise Assessment and Prescription
    • Those experiencing dyspnoea on exertion (even mild dyspnoea) may benefit from a formal exercise program. A formal exercise program generally includes aerobic and resistance training. Exercise training includes intensity, frequency, duration, type, mode and progression based on the severity and type of bronchitis.

Summary

In most cases, bronchitis will clear up by itself within a few weeks without the need for treatment. This type of bronchitis is known as acute bronchitis.

In some cases, the symptoms of bronchitis can last much longer. If symptoms last for at least three months, it is known as chronic bronchitis. There is no cure for chronic bronchitis, but there are several medications to help relieve symptoms.

At Respiratory Physiotherapy Ireland, our physiotherapists can provide specialised therapy and treatment techniques to manage your symptoms and best level of function for both acute and chronic bronchitis.

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+353 86 105 5791

+353 86 105 5791

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