What is bronchitis?

The bronchial tubes carry air to and from the lungs. An inflammation of the lining of these tubes is known as bronchitis. A  patient with this lung condition may cough up discolored and thickened mucus. It can be chronic or acute. Acute bronchitis is very common and it develops from a cold or any other respiratory infection. It improves within a few days. Chronic bronchitis is a much complicated condition. It may cause constant inflammation or irritation of the bronchial tubes. Smoking is the common cause of this Chronic condition. A chronic condition needs medical attention. It is included in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. When acute bronchitis occur along with asthma, the condition is referred to as asthmatic bronchitis. It is contagious when it is caused due to bacteria or virus. It is developed due to air pollution, inhaled irritants or smoking are not considered contagious.

What are the signs and symptoms of bronchitis?

Signs and symptoms are common for both acute and chronic bronchitis. It includes the following:

  • Cough

  • Fatigue

  • Chest pain or discomfort

  • Production of mucous

  • Mild fever and chills

A nagging cough is the major symptom of it. The cough may last for several weeks. If an individual has a chronic bronchitis, he/she may have a productive cough that may last for about three months. It is important to seek medical advice if one is having a cough that lasts for more than three weeks.

What causes bronchitis?

Viruses are the main cause of acute bronchitis. Viruses that cause flu or influenza causes acute bronchitis too. As antibiotics don’t have the power to kill viruses, they may not be useful to treat this lung condition. Smoking cigarette is said to be one of the most common and the major cause for chronic bronchitis. Dust, toxic gases, and air pollution may also contribute to the development of chronic bronchitis.

How is bronchitis diagnosed?

During the first stages, the signs and symptoms of this lung condition will be difficult to differentiate from a common cold. After the physical examination, the doctor may suggest following tests to confirm whether it is this condition or not.

  • Chest X-ray

  • Pulmonary function test

  • Sputum test

What are the treatments for bronchitis?

Two weeks of medical treatment can resolve most of the acute cases. Medications and therapies are the two treatment options for this lung condition.

  • Medication

  • Antibiotics: Prescribed only for bacterial bronchitis.

  • Cough medicine

  • Other medications: Inhaler and other medication may be suggested to reduce inflammation and shortness of breath.

  • Therapies

Pulmonary rehabilitation is suggested for patients with bronchitis which is chronic . A breathing exercise may also be suggested.