During the winter, a lot of people find themselves getting sick, whether it’s with a winter vomiting virus or a cold. But a lot of colds turn into flu, and the flu can often turn into bronchitis. But what is bronchitis, and how can you make it go away?
Symptoms Of Bronchitis
The number one symptom is a hacking cough, which may bring up mucus. This mucus could be clear, yellowish, grey or greenish, and is otherwise known as phlegm. You may also have other cold-like symptoms, like a headache, a runny nose, a sore throat, joint pain, and tiredness. Other symptoms of the disease include discomfort in your chest, a fever, wheezing, and a shortness of breath – and if you have a bad cough, it might make your chest and stomach sore.
Types Of Bronchitis
There are two types. Acute bronchitis is contagious, and mostly affects children under the age of five. It’s common during the winter and often comes after a cold or the flu. It’s a temporary inflammation of the airways that should clear up after a few weeks. Chronic bronchitis is a more long-term condition, but it isn’t contagious. It’s a daily productive cough that lasts for months over a period of years that mostly affects adults over forty who are also suffering from other lung diseases. The phlegm produced can be streaked with blood.
Causes of Bronchitis
Bronchitis is caused by an inflammation of the bronchi, which are the main airways of the lungs. The inflammation is caused by an infection that irritates the bronchi and makes them produce more mucus than usual. Acute bronchitis is usually caused by a viral infection or occasionally bacteria, while chronic bronchitis is usually caused by smoking or other forms of lung irritants like dust from hazardous exposure to jobs like coal mining or farming, or even air pollution. It can also be triggered by second-hand smoke.
After diagnoses, often by chest x-rays or blood tests, the best way to treat the disease is by giving up smoking and avoiding other irritants. Acute bronchitis will clear up with plenty of rest and fluids, with symptoms being treated with aspirin. If a premature baby, a person over eighty, or a person with a weakened immune system contracts the disease, it may be treated with antibiotics. Chronic bronchitis is usually treated by symptom, and can itself be a symptom of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which can go alongside emphysema. This is often treated by pulmonary rehabilitation, steroids, or even lung transplants in particularly troubling cases.
Complications of Bronchitis
Some people, such as the elderly, smokers, and those with weakened immune systems, are at risk of developing pneumonia, which happens when the infection spreads further into the lungs. This may require antibiotics or even hospitalisation in more serious cases.
Although it can seem serious, the key to feeling better is to be sensible: avoid irritants, quit smoking, and make sure you get plenty of rest and if that doesn’t work, visit an emergency room and let a board-certified ER physician diagnose and treat your illness.