Bronchitis is an infection of the main airways of the lungs, called bronchi, which causes them to become inflamed.
The walls of the bronchi produce mucus to trap dust and other particles that could otherwise cause irritation. Bronchitis occurs when an infection causes the bronchi to become irritated and swollen (inflamed), which causes them to produce more mucus than usual. Your body tries to shift this extra mucus through coughing.
Bronchitis can be acute in onset, meaning it comes on quickly and resolves within 2-3 weeks, or chronic (long term) bronchitis, which can cause you to have a persistent cough that is present most days of the month for at least three months or more in a year, for at least 2 years. Chronic bronchitis is common in smokers.
Most people who develop bronchitis recover from it quickly and without any sequelae, but younger children, older adults, or people with underlying lung conditions such as asthma or COPD, may have a hard time recovering from it.
Majority of the times bronchitis is caused by a virus, and people most often develop it a few days after a viral upper respiratory tract infection, however, in a few cases, it may be caused by bacteria. Acute bronchitis may occasionally be caused by accidentally inhaling foreign particles such as smoke or food into the lungs.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
The main symptom of bronchitis is a hacking cough which can be very uncomfortable. Sometimes the cough can bring on yellowish mucus, although this may be absent. The cough lasts a couple of days to up to a few weeks and can make the chest area sore due to increased muscular effort. Other symptoms may include:
discomfort in the chest
low grade fever
DIAGNOSIS AND MANAGEMENT
Bronchitis can most often be picked up by a good history and physical exam, but chest X ray may be performed in a number of patients to rule out more serious underlying lung pathology, such as pneumonia.
Bronchitis can easily be managed at home by:
- Getting plenty of rest.
- Drinking lots of fluids. This helps prevent dehydration and thins the mucus in your lungs, making it easier to cough up.
- Treat headaches, fever and aches and pains with paracetamol or ibuprofen (ibuprofen is not recommended if you have asthma).
Antibiotics are almost never needed in bronchitis, as it is almost always caused by a virus. In a minority of cases, if risk of developing pneumonia is significantly increased, a short course of antibiotics may be prescribed.
HOME REMEDIES FOR BRONCHITIS
You can incorporate the following changes to your routine to get rid of symptoms of bronchitis faster:
- Honey water, or honey in any tea you prefer, especially with lemon.
- gargling with salt water
- Ginger tea with cloves
- Orange juice
- Drink lots of water
- Get plenty of rest