Bronchitis Causes Environment Pollution

Medical research continues to evolve, developing solutions, treatments and cures for conditions that were considered incurable just a few decades ago. Patients are experiencing better outcomes and improved quality of life in spite of illness and disease that can often strike without warning. Instead of being bystanders to their own care, many patients are now realizing they have more control over their health than they once thought.

Environmental factors can play a large part in all our lives and health. Exposure to pollution, including allergens, toxins and chemicals, can affect our health, sometimes in ways we don’t even realize. Illness like cancer, allergies and bronchitis can all be caused or made worse by exposure to an unhealthy environment.

What is Bronchitis?

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchial passages, the airways connect the trachea to the lungs. When those passages become inflamed, breathing becomes difficult. The more inflammation there is, the more difficult it is to breathe.

When the airways are constantly inflamed, they are more likely to become swollen and infected.

Symptoms of bronchitis can include:

  • coughing
  • coughing up mucus
  • fatigue
  • fever
  • swelling in the ankles or legs
  • wheezing.

If you have any of these symptoms for more than a few days, call your doctor right away. The sooner you get treated, the less likely you are to develop complications from bronchitis.

Diagnosing and Treating Bronchitis

Your doctor will examine you to determine the cause of your coughing. He will listen to your heart and lungs to determine whether you have any wheezing, or if your heart is beating too hard, both of which can indicate that you are not getting enough oxygen. Bronchitis can also cause an increase in blood pressure.

If you are diagnosed with bronchitis, you will be given information about treating the symptoms while the bronchitis runs its course. To relieve your symptoms, you will need to get plenty of fluids to thin the mucus in your lungs and lots of rest to deal with the fatigue that accompanies the illness. You may also receive a prescription for a bronchodilator. This is an inhaled medication that will reduce inflammation and help you breathe more easily.

Because bronchitis is usually a viral infection, antibiotics are not prescribed in most cases. If, however, your airways have been exposed to bacteria, you may develop infectious bronchitis. Infectious bronchitis occurs when bacteria comes into contact with weakened and inflamed airways. You will be prescribed antibiotics to eliminate the infection.

Pollution and Bronchitis

Smoking is usually the cause of chronic bronchitis, but, in a small number of cases, there are other causes. If you are exposed to chemicals in the course of your job or at home, you may develop bronchitis. Fumes from harsh chemicals such as chlorine or ammonia can cause your airways to become inflamed. Even a one-time exposure to strong fumes can bring on coughing spasms and bronchitis.

If you work in a mine, on a farm or in any other area where you are exposed to mineral or plant dust, you may increase your risk for contracting bronchitis. Weekend gardeners who use fertilizers or insecticides are also at risk. It’s important to tell your doctor if you were exposed to any of these irritants.

What Can I Do To Prevent Bronchitis?

Here are some tips to help you avoid bronchitis:

  • Don’t close up rooms where you’ve had new carpeting or furniture installed. Open the windows until the smell goes away.
  • If you have allergies, try to prevent allergens from entering your home.
  • If you know you will be exposed to harsh chemicals, fumes, pollutants or other environmental factors, it’s important to wear a respirator, like those professional painters wear. At the very least, wear a pollen mask to avoid breathing in dust or other small particles.
  • Keep your work and home as free from pollutants as possible. In order to accomplish this, dust and clean on a regular basis and never smoke indoors.

Anything you can do to keep your environment free of pollutants or contaminants will help you avoid the potentially dangerous inflammation of bronchitis. While we can’t control every facet of our environment, we can make choices that can help keep us healthy.

Resources

American Diabetes Association (n.d.). Flu and Pneumonia Shots. Retrieved July 26, 2007, from the American Diabetes Association Web site: http://www.diabetes.org/utils/printthispage.jsp?PageID=TYPE1DIABETES3_232914.

American Lung Association (n.d.). Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Fact Sheet (Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema). Retrieved on July 26, 2007, from the American Lung Association Web site: http://www.lungusa.org/site/apps/nl/content3.asp?c=dvLUK9O0E