Bronchitis is defined as the inflammation or swelling of the lining of your bronchial tubes. Bronchial tubes are the airways between the lungs and the windpipe. The bronchial tubes are responsible for conveying air to and from your lungs. Bronchitis makes these tubes irritated and swollen. These tubes have linings that excrete significant amounts of mucus than usual causing a cough. The mucus traps dust particles and other elements. Bronchitis should be taken seriously especially among the elderly as it can lead to more severe complications. Women are also considered to be at more risk than men when it comes to bronchitis.
There are two types of bronchitis:
1. Acute bronchitis: It happens when a virus or bacteria attacks the upper respiratory tract. It lasts for about a week or two and can be cured by simple solutions. Before taking any medicines and cough syrups you should consult the doctor. Acute bronchitis is prevalent in both children and adults.
2. Chronic bronchitis: It lasts for at least three months and is often caused by smoking and other pollutants. The condition can also develop as a result of badly treated acute bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis is more difficult to treat and thus requires medical attention.
Causes of Bronchitis
Bronchitis mostly results from a viral or bacterial chest infection. In fact, viral infections make up to 90% of bronchitis cases. You stand high chances of getting acute bronchitis shortly after having the flu or common cold. They come with an upper respiratory tract infection. Bronchitis is transferred by coughing or sneezing without covering your mouth. In the process of coughing or sneezing, droplets spread and stay in the air for a while. If you come into contact with a surface that has the virus and then touches anywhere else without washing your hands, you can help spread bronchitis. The viruses responsible include influenza, rhinovirus and syncytial virus among others.
Symptoms of Bronchitis
- A persistent cough usually accompanied by a yellowish gray mucus/phlegm.
- Experiencing a wheezing sound when breathing.
- Occasional fever and chills.
- Chest discomfort.
- A blocked nose that leads to shortness of breath and running nose in some instances.
Facts of Bronchitis You Probably Didn’t Know
- Doctors in the United States attend to over 14 million cases of bronchitis every year.
- Most people only come to know about having chronic bronchitis when the disease has already progressed to an advanced stage.
- If untreated or treated in the wrong way, bronchitis can cause pneumonia.
- People exposed to fumes and dust are at much higher risk of developing chronic bronchitis.
- Smoking accounts for up to 80% of chronic bronchitis cases.
Although bronchitis is not considered a dangerous disease on its own, it can contribute to the development of other serious conditions. That’s why you’re strongly recommended to go to the doctor if you suspect you may have bronchitis. If you have an underlying lung condition like asthma, or if symptoms persist for four weeks, then you really need prompt medical attention. It may be a sigh of a life-threatening disease like pneumonia.