What Is Chronic Bronchitis?
Bronchitis is an infection of the lining of the bronchi. They are the tubes that carry air into and out of your lungs. People with bronchitis generally have an ongoing cough that raises thickened, discoloured mucus. There may also be wheezing, chest pain and shortness of breath.(1)
Bronchitis can be acute as well as chronic. Acute bronchitis occurs because of a cold or another respiratory infection, and generally improves within a few days without lasting effects. Chronic bronchitis is a more serious condition that develops with time rather than coming suddenly. This is pointed out by repeated episodes of bronchitis that last several months or years.
Ongoing inflammation of the lining of the bronchi causes excessive accumulation of sticky mucus in the airways. It reduces the flow of air entering and exiting the lungs. The blockage of the airflow increases over time, resulting in respiratory problems and increased mucus production in the lungs.
A lot of people with chronic bronchitis are slowly developing emphysema, which is a form of pulmonary sickness. Together, both diseases are called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). As per the American Lung Association, over 11 million Americans suffer from COPD. But there are a lot more people who don’t even know they have it.
Most COPD symptoms take some time to progressionve, therefore people generally mistakenly believe that the condition is not in danger of death and ignore the symptoms until the condition has progressed to a more serious state. However, the disease cannot be cured, symptoms can be managed with treatment once a diagnosis is made. (2)
Chronic Bronchitis Symptoms?
Following long-term inflammation and irritation of the bronchi, chronic bronchitis may lead to more than one characteristic symptom, including a constant, heavy cough that lifts mucus out of the lungs. Mucus can be yellowish, green or white.
Over time, the quantity of mucus increases because of the greater production of mucus in the lungs. The mucus finally accumulates in the bronchi and restricts the flow of air, That makes respiration very difficult. This shortness of breath can be accompanied by wheezing, which worsens during all types of physical work.
Other symptoms associated with chronic bronchitis include:
- discomfort in chest
- sinus congestion
- a fever
- bad breath
During the late stages of chronic bronchitis, skin and lips can have a bluish colour due to a lack of oxygen in the blood. Decreased levels of oxygen in the blood can also lead to peripheral edema, or swelling of the legs and ankles.
During chronic bronchitis, symptoms may also be different in seriousness and frequency. For instance, a cough can disappear during certain periods, which will be followed by an intense cough period. More serious episodes can be triggered by factors such as:
- airway infections, such as colds or flu.
- infections all over the body.
- exposure to environmental irritants, such as air pollutants, dust, fumes and mists.
- heart conditions
What are the causes of chronic bronchitis?
Chronic bronchitis happens when the bronchial tube is frequently irritated and inflamed. Persistent irritation and swelling may damage the airway and cause accumulation of sticky mucus, which disturbs the airflow in the lungs.
This leads to respiratory problems that become worse. Inflammation can also harm the cilia, These are hair-shaped structures that help keep the air passages free of germs and other irritants. When cilia are not functioning properly, usually the growth of microbes occurs in the respiratory tract and it leads to bacterial and viral infections.
Infections typically trigger initial irritation and swelling, which causes acute bronchitis. However, tobacco use is the most frequent cause of chronic bronchitis. In fact, over 90 percent of There is a history of smoking. Inhalation of cigarette smoke temporarily paralyses the cilia, whether repeated smoking over an extended period of time can cause significant damage to cilia. Chronic bronchitis can occur over time due to these damages.
Second-hand smoke may also be responsible for chronic bronchitis. Other possible causes include prolonged exposure to air pollution, industrial or chemical fumes, and poisonous gases. Reccuring pulmonary infections can also cause additional damage to the lungs and aggravate chronic bronchitis symptoms.
When Should I See My Doctor?
A lot of people reject the symptoms of chronic bronchitis, thinking they just cough up the smoker. However, it is necessary to contact your physician right away if you even have a very little doubt that you might have bronchitis. It significantly increases your risk of serious lung injury, which can lead to breathing problems or heart failure.
Call your doctor as soon as you cough:
- lasts for three weeks or more.
- disturbs your sleep
- is accompanied by a higher than temperature 100.4° F
- produces discoloured mucous or blood.
- induces wheezing or shortness of breath
What is the diagnosis of chronic bronchitis?
If you have no idea if your symptoms are chronic bronchitis, tests are available to assist your physician in making a precise diagnosis:
- An X-ray of the chest may help eliminate other lung diseases, like pneumonia, This may cause your cough.
- Sputum is the mucous you cough out of your lungs. Tests and sputum examinations can confirm the presence of bacteria and assist your doctor in determining the primary cause of your symptoms.
- A lung function test helps your physician determine if your lungs are functioning properly. It can identify signs of asthma or emphysema by measuring your ability to breathe and the ease with which your lungs can supply oxygen throughout your body.
- When performing a CT scan, your doctor takes high-resolution X-rays of your body from multiple angles, allowing your doctor to see your lungs and other organs more accurately.
What is the treatment of chronic bronchitis?
While no cure exists for chronic bronchitis, the illness may be controlled by medical treatments and lifestyle improvements, especially in the case of an early diagnosis.
According to the seriousness of your condition, Your treatment plan can consist of the following:
- A bronchodilator is a type of medication that opens up your lungs’ respiratory tract, and ease of respiration. The substance is frequently inhaled by an inhaler, which is a device that pump the drug through your lungs. Your doctor will help you use your inhaler properly so that you take maximum advantage of the bronchodilators.
- Theophylline is an oral drug that relaxes the muscles of the respiratory tract to make them open more, helps to relieve respiratory problems. Your doctor may recommend theophylline if you suffer from severe shortness of breath.
- If your symptoms don’t get better with bronchodilators or theophyllin, Your doctor could give you steroids. This medication can be taken either with an inhaler or as a pillil.
- Lung rehabilitation is a program that helps improve your breathing and overall wellness. It generally consists of exercises, nutritional advice and breathing plans. Other programs include counselling. Your physician can refer you to a pulmonary rehabilitation program at your local hospital.
Doing some lifestyle adjustments and trying natural remedies may also help alleviate your symptoms of chronic bronchitis. You may want to keep in mind that:
- Breathing in the warm, moist air of a humidifier can relieve cough and release mucus into your respiratory tract. Be sure to clean the humidifier on a regular basis in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Bacteria and fungi may develop in the water tank when not properly cleaned.
- You might want to stop smoking if you smoke. If you live in an area where air pollution is high, you should wear a mask each time you go out. You may also want to wear a mask if you are working in an industry where you are exposed to paint or household cleaners to heavy fumes. Regular exposure to these irritants may worsen your symptoms.
- Being physically active can strengthen the muscles that let you breathe. Ideally, you should do at least three exercises per week for 30 minutes. If you have not worked before, start slowly and progressively increase the length and intensity of your workout routine. You may want to talk to your doctor to help you develop an exercise plan that is right for you.
- Breathing on the lips can sometimes bring relief when you find it difficult to breathe. Breathing on the lips, you breathe deeply, then slowly in the mouth. When you exhale, hold your lips like you’re going to kiss somebody. This may help you to manage your breathing and feel better when you experience shortness of breath or any breathing problem.
How should I prevent chronic bronchitis?
The most important thing you need to do to reduce your risk of chronic bronchitis is to prevent or stop smoking. The lungs can be seriously damaged if you inhale cigarette smoke for a long time. When you stop smoking, your lungs will start to heal and you can breathe a lot more easily. You will also minimize the risk of developing lung cancer. Contact your doctor to stop smoking or visit. the American Lung Association website for tips.
Other pulmonary irritants, such as paint, toxic vapours and dust, should also be avoided. If you’re in an industry where you have such irritants, Apply a mask to your nose and throat to protect your lungs.