Bronchitis – Signs and Treatment

What causes bronchitis?

Bacteria, viruses and additional particles that irritate the bronchi making it inflamed are the main cause of bronchitis.

What causes severe bronchitis?

Severe bronchitis is mainly caused by the same kind of viruses that are responsible for causing flu and colds. Severe bronchitis is also caused by exposure to lung irritant substances like pollution from air, vapors, fumes, dust, and smoke from tobacco and infections by bacteria.

What causes critical bronchitis?

Critical bronchitis is usually caused as a result of the lungs being repeatedly exposed to irritants that destroy the tissues within the air passages.

The major cause of critical bronchitis is smoking, but it may also be caused by overly exposing ones lungs to environmental fumes, dust, and polluted air, similarly repeated critical bronchitis episodes may also cause it.

Diagnosing Bronchitis

The physician will question the patient concerning the symptoms they are experiencing and find out if they are coughing. During the examination the doctor may want to know about the health history of the patient, if the patient has suffered from a flu or cold in the recent past, if the patient is a smoker, or if the patient has been exposed to irritants such as polluted air, vapors, fumes and dust.

The physician uses stethoscope to find out if the patients lungs is producing abnormal noise. Additionally the doctor may evaluate the mucus and also examine the levels of oxygen concentration in the blood as well as advise the patient to have an x-ray taken, blood test or lung function pulmonary test.

Bronchitis related complications

Pneumonia is the major bronchitis related complication and it results when the lung of the patient is deeply infected by the infection. The infection makes the alveoli (sacs of air in the lungs) to fill up with liquid.

It is estimated that for bronchitis 5% of it end in pneumonia.

Patients who have other organ diseases, those with compromised immunity, smokers, and those who are advanced in age are more likely to develop pneumonia if they have bronchitis

When should you visit a doctor?

Although many bronchitis cases can be managed and treated from home through resting, taking of lots of liquids, and medicines that control inflammation, some instances require seeking a doctor’s advice. When you are experiencing the following symptoms please see a doctor as soon as possible:

  • Coughs lasting for 3 weeks or more
  • Endless fever going for more than 3 days
  • Blood stained mucus in the cough sputum
  • Had a heart or lung problem before
  • Pains in the chest and faster breathing
  • Getting confused or drowsy
  • Recurring bronchitis

Viewpoint

Severe bronchitis is a very usual problem. In many cases it could be very uncomfortable but is most likely to disappear just like that.

If you see no changes of improvement or symptoms of its intensity going down or you notice the signs discussed in this article, it will be better if you quickly find your way to a doctor to get medicines.

How to prevent bronchitis

It is almost impossible to completely prevent severe or critical bronchitis, there exists many things you can do to mitigate the risks:

  • Don’t engage in smoking if you aren’t a smoker or stop smoking if you do
  • Keep off irritations for the lungs e.g. polluted air, vapors, fumes, dust and smoke. If you can’t keep off exposure, take precautions such as using mouth and nose masks
  • Maintain cleanliness by keeping your hands clean through washing to control bacteria and germs
  • Vaccination – ensure you are vaccinated annually against flu
  • Vaccinate against pneumonia
    • A research conducted in Lebanon, established that 89% risk increased due to passive smoking hence doubling critical bronchitis infection risk, and home passive smokers was linked to 2 ½ times critical bronchitis
    • It was also established that those who resided very close to the busy highways has the risk doubled likewise to those that heat their homes with conditioners with hot air instead of heating with electricity. 62% risk of critical bronchitis is associated to living near a power plant using diesel to burn.
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