Bronchitis is an inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, the airways that
connect the trachea (windpipe) to the lungs. Bronchitis is more specifically when the lining of the bronchial tubes becomes inflamed or infected. People with bronchitis breathe less air and oxygen into their lungs; they also have heavy mucus or phlegm forming in their airways. Bronchitis can be acute or chronic. An acute medical condition occurs quickly and can cause severe symptoms, but it lasts only a short time (no longer than a few weeks). Acute bronchitis is most often caused by viruses that can infect the respiratory tract and attack the bronchial tubes. Infection by certain bacteria can also cause acute bronchitis. Most people have acute bronchitis at some point in their lives.
Chronic bronchitis can be mild to severe and is longer lasting from several months to
years. With chronic bronchitis, the bronchial tubes continue to be inflamed (red and swollen), irritated, and produce excessive mucus over time. The most common cause of chronic bronchitis is smoking.
Acute Bronchitis :Acute bronchitis is swelling and inflammation of the main air passages to the lungs. This swelling narrows the airways, making it harder to breath and causing other symptoms, such as a cough.
Causes of Acute Bronchitis
Acute bronchitis almost always follows a cold or flu-like infection. The infection is
caused by viruses (influenza, parainfluenza, respiratory syncitial virus, rhinovirus and
adenovirus). At first, it affects nose, sinuses, and throat. Then it spreads to the airways leading to lungs. Sometimes, bacteria (Mycoplasma, Streptococcus, Bordetella,Moraxella, Haemophilus and Chlamydia pneumoniae) also infect the airways. This is called a secondary infection. In addition, other agents such as tobacco smoke, chemicals and environmental air pollution may irritate the bronchi and cause such disease
Symptoms of Acute Bronchitis
The symptoms may include:
- Chest discomfort.
- Cough that produces mucus; it may be clear or yellow green.
- Fever, usually low grade.
- Shortness of breath that gets worse with activity.
- Wheezing, in people with asthma.
- Even after acute bronchitis has cleared, a dry and nagging cough may remains for 1 to 4 weeks.
Diagnosis Of Acute Bronchitis
In this disease coughing usually lasts between 10 to 20 days. There are no
specific tests for acute bronchitis. Certain tests may be required if there is recurrent or persistent cough that may suggest asthma or chronic bronchitis. Coughing for period of greater than four weeks may be due to whooping cough (pertussis).
Sputum tests: Sputum can be tested to see whooping cough (pertussis) or other illnesses that could be helped by antibiotics. Sputum can also be tested for signs of
- Chest X-ray
- Pulse oximetry
Treatment For Acute Bronchitis
Acute bronchitis usually resolves its own within a couple of weeks, with complete healing of the airways and return to full function. Hence, the aim of treatment is to control symptoms.
- Getting adequate rest and fluid intake.
- Use of analgesic and antipyretic medications to relieve muscle aches, pains, headaches, and to reduce fever.
- Use of cough suppressants for a dry cough, but not for a productive cough.
- Use of expectorants for productive cough, to help clear the airways of mucus.
- Stopping smoking and avoidance of other airborne irritants. Bronchitis usually results from a viral infection, so antibiotics are not effective.
Antibiotics: Sometimes bacteria may also infect the airways along with the virus.
Cough medicine: It is best not to suppress a cough that brings up mucus, because coughing helps to remove irritants from lungs and air passages.
Other medications: Use bronchodilator like ipratropium bromide, theophylline to
open obstructed airways in people who have associated wheezing with their coughing or underlying asthma or COPD.
Chronic Bronchitis :Chronic bronchitis is a long-term, often irreversible respiratory illness. It is a chronic inflammatory condition in the lungs that causes the respiratory passages to be swollen and irritation increases the mucus production and damages the lungs.