What Is Bronchitis?

Bronchitis-copyBronchitis is an inflammation of the lining of your bronchial tubes, which carry air to and from your lungs. People who have bronchitis often cough up thickened mucus, which can be discolored. Bronchitis may be either acute or chronic.

Acute bronchitis is very common and often is caused by an infection that generally develops after a person has a cold or flu, which is characterized by sore throat, fever, fatigue, body aches, runny or stuffy nose, diarrhea or vomiting. Chronic bronchitis, a more serious condition, is a constant irritation or inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes.

Acute bronchitis is usually caused by viruses, typically the same viruses that cause colds and flu. Antibiotics don’t kill viruses, so this type of medication isn’t useful in most cases of bronchitis. The most common cause of chronic bronchitis is smoking cigarettes. Air pollution and dust or toxic gases in the environment or workplace also can contribute to the condition.

Acute bronchitis usually improves within a few days without lasting effects, although you may continue to cough for weeks. However, if you have repeated bouts of bronchitis, you may have chronic bronchitis, which requires medical attention. Chronic bronchitis is one of the conditions included in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

What Are the Symptoms?

  • Cough
  • Production of mucus (sputum)
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Slight fever and chills
  • Chest discomfort

See your doctor if your cough:

  • Lasts more than three weeks
  • Prevents you from sleeping
  • Is accompanied by fever higher than 100.4 F
  • Produces discolored mucus
  • Produces blood
  • Is associated with wheezing or shortness of breath

What Are the Treatments for Bronchitis?

Providing a warm atmosphere at home, drinking herbal drinks, so that mucus will be diluted, and medications may be used to treat acute bronchitis. Maintaining proper humidity in the home is also helpful.

However, a patient should not limit his or her treatment to just home treatment, especially if his condition aggravates and worsens, because otherwise acute bronchitis may develop into irreversible lung damage.