Bronchitis is an inflammation of the air passages that extend from windpipe into the lungs. This may be caused by a virus, bacteria,
smoking or the inhalation of chemical pollutants or dust. When the cells of the bronchial-lining tissue are irritated beyond a certain point,
the tiny hairs (cilia) within them, which normally trap and eliminate pollutants stop functioning.
As a result, they become clogged by debris and the irritation increases. In response, secretion of mucus is increased resulting in cough and if severe enough shortness of breath.
Bronchitis comes in two forms: acute (less than 6 weeks) or chronic (recurring frequently for more than two years):
This is responsible for the hacking cough and phlegm production that
accompany an upper respiratory tract infection. In most cases, it is viral in
origin, sometimes it is caused by bacteria. The mucosal area will return to
normal after several days unless there is an underlying lung problem. The
presence of fever, chills, muscle ache and chest pain suggest a more serious
infection like pneumonia. Chest x-ray should be ordered.
Chronic bronchitis is defined as excessive mucus secretion in the bronchi
presenting with a chronic or recurrent mucus-producing cough that lasts three
or more months and recurs year after year. Chronic bronchitis may result from
a series of attack of acute bronchitis, or it may evolve gradually because of
heavy smoking or inhalation of polluted air. When the mucus producing layer
of the bronchial lining has thickened, narrowing the airways to the point where
breathing becomes increasingly more difficult. When the cilia cannot sweep
the air clean of foreign irritants, the air passages become more vulnerable to
infection. This results in further tissue damage. Unlike acute bronchitis,
chronic bronchitis is an ongoing, serious disease.
- Persistent cough
- Productive cough
- Shortness of breath
The doctor will decide on above tests if indicated and necessary.
- Chest x-ray
- Blood test example blood count
- Sputum test
- Lung Function test
- Plenty of rest
- Adequate fluid intake
- Avoid smoke and fumes
- Stop smoking in chronic bronchitis
- Cough syrup
- Inhaled or oral steroid if severe
- Oxygen therapy if severe
- Antibiotic if indicated
Worried about Bronchitis?