Bronchitis What Is Bronchitis Treatment

Bronchitis is an infection of the lungs characterized by shortness of breath and a persistent cough. Bronchitis causes the airways in the lungs to become inflamed. As a result, the mucous linings of these airways become irritated, tightening the airways and making it difficult for your body to bring in oxygen.

What are the Types and Symptoms of Bronchitis?

There are 2 types of bronchitis:

  • acute bronchitis, which lasts less than 6 weeks
  • chronic bronchitis, which is recurrent and occurs frequently over two or more years.

Acute bronchitis initially represents itself as a tightening in the chest area followed by a hacking cough. As the mucous builds up in the lungs, the patient will begin to cough up yellow or green phlegm. Acute bronchitis is also characterized by:

  • a slight fever
  • shortness of breath
  • soreness in the lungs
  • wheezing.

Chronic bronchitis has the same symptoms of acute bronchitis. In chronic bronchitis, coughing will consistently produce yellow, green or white phlegm.

Causes of Bronchitis

Acute bronchitis occurs most frequently in conjunction with lung infections. Ninety percent of lung infections are viral and 10 percent are bacterial. Only bronchitis caused by bacteria can be treated with antibiotics.

Smoking can also contribute to bronchitis. Smoking paralyzes the cilia in the lungs, which are responsible for cleaning the lungs’ airways. Without the proper cleaning, mucous can build up in the lungs, which can eventually contribute to bronchitis.

Chronic bronchitis can be caused by a number of things. Smoking and exposure to industrial pollution both weaken the lungs and bronchial passages. This can lead to recurrent bronchitis.

Chronic bronchitis can also be caused by a recurrence of acute bronchitis. As the lungs weaken with each case of acute bronchitis, they become more susceptible to chronic bronchitis.

Persistent chronic bronchitis is a serious problem. This disease can permanently damage the bronchial passages and can lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a serious medical condition in which the lungs are permanently damaged.

Treatment of Bronchitis

Acute bronchitis occurs frequently in both children and adults. It will often go away within six weeks of onset and does not necessarily require the assistance of doctors or prescription medication. Recommended treatment includes getting plenty of bed rest, drinking a lot of fluids and taking an over-the-counter cough syrup.

Chronic bronchitis makes the lungs susceptible to other lung infections. If you have chronic bronchitis, your doctor will often review your medical history and perform a breathing examination. He might also take an X-ray to determine how much damage the disease has caused in your lungs.

Treatment for chronic bronchitis often includes prescription antibiotics. While these antibiotics can’t cure the bronchitis, they can keep it from contributing to a secondary infection. You may also be asked to get a flu vaccine to protect against other lung diseases. Over-the-counter cough suppressants are not recommended for those diagnosed with chronic bronchitis.

Bronchitis is a common lung infection that can often be remedied at home. Smokers and those exposed to industrial pollution need to take extra precaution to avoid acquiring the disease.

Resources

Mayo Clinic Staff (April 20, 2007). Bronchitis. Retrieved on July 27, 2007, from the Mayo Clinic Web site: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/bronchitis/DS00031/DSECTION=1.

MedicineNet (n.d.). Understanding Bronchitis. Retrieved on July 27, 2007, from the MedicineNet Web site: http://www.medicinenet.com/bronchitis/article.htm.