What is Bronchitis?
Bronchitis is an irritation or inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes in the lungs.
What Causes Bronchitis?
Sometimes bronchitis is caused by a viral infection. However, it can also be a secondary bacterial infection that follows a cold or viral infection of the upper respiratory tract. Smokers frequently get bronchitis as a comlication of otherwise mild viral illnesses.
What are Its Signs and Symptoms?
The symptoms of bronchitis most often follow a cold or upper-respiratory tract infection. A cough is initially dry but later may produce phlegm (mucus). There may be mild fever. Malaise or a feeling of general bodily discomfort is common. Wheezing is common. Severe chest pain is not typical and suggests more serious illness such as pneumonia.
How is it Treated?
- Fluids - most important to thin the secretions.
- Tylenol or Ibuprofen for fever and aches.
- Vaporizer is helpful.
- Expectorant cough medication to liquefy the phlegm so that it can be moved up the bronchial tube and coughed out.
- Cough suppressant only if sleep is disturbed.
- Antibiotics if indicated.
- Bronchodilator medicines especially if wheezing; they help to relax the muscles around the bronchial tube allowing easier breathing and less coughing.
How Can I Avoid Bronchitis?
Good nutrition and adequate rest will help your body resist infections. Smoking may make you more susceptible to bronchitis and affect its severity and duration. It may take smokers twice as long to recover from bronchitis than nonsmokers. It is strongly advised that you stop smoking, at least while recovering.