Bronchitis is a very common health condition that affects the lungs. It is an inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, which are the ones responsible for carrying air to and from your lungs in order for you to breathe adequately. If bronchitis is left untreated it could lead to possible life-threatening complications. Those who experience bronchitis often cough up mucus that is thick and discolored at times. Bronchitis can either be classified as acute or chronic depending on how long you have had symptoms.
Acute bronchitis develops secondary usually by a virus, such as after you come down with a cold or another respiratory infection. Acute bronchitis usually will improve within a few days without any lingering effects, besides a cough that is likely to continue for many more weeks. Chronic bronchitis is the more serious of the two, and it occurs when there is a constant irritation or inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes. Generally chronic bronchitis is found in those who smoke, and those exposed to air pollution, dust, or toxic gases in the environment or in the workplace. The chronic form of bronchitis requires medical attention in order to maintain and relieve the symptoms, while also working to prevent any further complications.
You should be attentive to the following signs and symptoms which could be indicative of either acute or chronic bronchitis. These include:
ü Productive cough.
ü Mucus that can either be clear, yellowish-gray, white, or green…rarely it may also be streaked with blood.
ü Shortness of breath.
ü Slight fever and chills.
ü Chest discomfort.
You should definitely seek medical attention if you notice the following characteristics about your cough:
ü Lasts more than 3 weeks.
ü Interrupts, or completely prevents you from sleeping.
ü Occurs along with a fever higher than 100.4F.
ü Produces thick mucus that is discolored.
ü Produces blood.
ü Causes you to wheeze or become short of breath.
Keep in mind that with acute bronchitis you may have a lingering cough that lasts for several weeks even after the inflammation resolves. In order to be classified as chronic bronchitis there has to be a productive cough that lasts at least three months with recurring bouts of bronchitis symptoms that occur for at least two consecutive years. As with most health conditions there are also risks that increase your chance of coming down with bronchitis. Risks to be aware of may include the following:
ü Cigarette smoke.
v Whether you smoke yourself, or live with someone who does…you will be at an increase risk to develop either acute or chronic bronchitis.
ü Decreased immunity.
v If you have another acute illness, such as a cold or a chronic condition that compromises your immune system you will be more vulnerable to infection and development of bronchitis. Older adults fall into this vulnerable category.
ü Increased exposure.
v Your risk of developing bronchitis increases if you work around certain materials that may become irritants to your lungs, such as grains or textiles. Chemical fumes may also irritate your lungs.
ü Gastric reflux.
v Repeated occurrences of severe heartburn can greatly irritate your throat and place you more at risk for developing bronchitis.
Upon presenting your symptoms to your provider, making a definitive diagnosis of bronchitis can be done with completion of various tests, including:
o Chest X-ray.
· This can help rule out another condition, such as pneumonia, that may otherwise explain your cough.
o Sputum tests.
· Some of your sputum can be collected and tested for infections and signs of allergies. This will determine if you could benefit from antibiotics to treat your condition.
o Pulmonary function test.
· During this test you will blow into a device called a spirometer. A spirometer measures how much air your lungs can hold and how quickly you can get air out of your lungs. This test will check for any signs of asthma or emphysema.
Treatment will depend upon which type of bronchitis you are diagnosed with. As mentioned above, acute bronchitis will typically resolve on its own within two weeks without medical treatment. In other circumstances such as with a more chronic form of bronchitis you may be prescribed antibiotics, cough medicine, an inhaler, or other medications that work to reduce inflammation in your lung passages. In addition there are a few lifestyle changes and home remedies you can also try to help prevent bronchitis from developing including:
v Quit smoking and wear a mask when you are exposed to irritants, whether it is at work or just cleaning your house.
v Use a humidifier because warm, moist air will help to relieve your cough and will break up the mucus in your airways.
v Consider wearing a mask or the appropriate clothing to cover your face if you go outside in air that is cold because cold air can aggravate your cough and cause shortness of breath.
Total Home Health understands how much of a disruption being diagnosed with bronchitis can be in the way you go about your daily routine. The professionals who are assigned to your case will bring you the most optimal care straight to the comforts of your own home. We will work side by side with you, always putting your wishes first and keeping your health and safety as our top priorities. Our professionals will never fail to be attentive to your condition, and will never hesitate to notify your provider in order to stay on top of your treatment regimen and care we provide. Enroll with us today and you’ll see in no time!