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Bronchitis : Meaning, Types, Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

We all get cough sometime or the other. It can be due to a sore throat, pollution, change in climate and one out of many more reasons. Cough normally goes away within 4-5 days or a week maximum. However, if it lasts more than 2 weeks, it can be due to a severe medical condition. Cough, which lasts for more than two weeks should not be ignored. It can be bronchitis. In this post, we will discuss Bronchitis which is a serious medical condition. So here is our post on Bronchitis meaning, types, causes, symptoms & treatment.

Bronchitis - Meaning, Types, Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Bronchitis Meaning : 

The medical condition in which the bronchial tubes, which carry air to your lungs, get swollen or infected is called bronchitis.  Bronchitis leads to severe cough and a lot of mucus. Bronchitis can last up to 2-3 months. Even though it goes away by itself, one should seek treatment for relief and early cure. 

Types of Bronchitis :

There are two types of bronchitis, namely acute and chronic. 

Acute bronchitis:

Acute Bronchitis

Acute bronchitis is the more common one. The symptoms last for a week or so and it goes away by itself. It does not create any problems for the future. So basically it comes and goes away by itself. One should still seek treatment for early relief.

Chronic bronchitis:

Chronic Bronchitis

Chronic Bronchitis is a more serious condition. In this, bronchitis does not go away easily and keeps coming back. In some cases, it doesn’t go away at all. This type of bronchitis is also called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This requires proper and regular treatment.

Causes of Bronchitis :

More often than not, the viruses that cause cold or flu also cause bronchitis. That said, sometimes bacteria are to be blamed.

In both acute and chronic bronchitis, when the body fights off the germs, the bronchial tubes swell and make more mucus. This means that they have smaller openings for air to flow, which makes it harder to breathe.

You are more prone to Bronchitis if :

  • You have a weak immune system. This is especially the case with older adults, babies and young children, and people who are already fighting an ongoing disease. Even a simple cold can very likely cause bronchitis as the body is already busy fighting off those germs.
  • You yourself smoke or live with someone who smokes.
  • You live in an area that has chemical fumes or dust. (Some examples are: coal mining, working around farm animals).
  • The air quality in the place you live or travel is poor and has lots of pollution.

Symptoms of Bronchitis : 

It is very important to know the symptoms of Bronchitis. If you are aware of the symptoms, you can self-diagnose and seek treatment from a doctor.  One thing is for sure, if you have bronchitis you will definitely have a cough. There are other symptoms such as:

  • Chest congestion, where your chest feels full or clogged
  • A cough that may bring up a lot of mucus that’s clear, white, yellow, or green
  • Have a runny, stuffy nose
  • Have a sore throat
  • Shortness of breath
  • A wheezing or a whistling sound when you breath
  • Have body aches and chills
  • Feel “wiped out”
  • Run a low fever
  • The cough can last for a few weeks while your bronchial tubes heal and the swelling goes down. The cough can remain even after the other symptoms are gone. It should be noted that if the cough goes on for much longer than that, the problem might be something else and not bronchitis.

The cough can be called dangerous if it-

  • Has a barking sound and makes it hard to speak
  • Comes along with unexplained weight loss
  • Brings up blood or mucus that thickens or darkens
  • Keeps you awake at night
  • Lasts more than 3 weeks
  • Causes chest pain

Treatment of Bronchitis :

Bronchitis goes away on its own within a couple of weeks, 99 % of the time. However, If yours is caused by bacteria which is a very rare case, you may need antibiotics prescribed by a doctor. If you have allergies, asthma or you’re wheezing, you might be prescribed an inhaler. This would help it open up your airways and hence would make it easier to breathe.

To get relief from your symptoms, you can:

  • Drink plenty of water. Eight to twelve glasses of water a day helps thin out your mucus and makes it easier to cough it out.
  • Have a lot of rest.
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers. Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), or aspirin help with pain. But avoid giving aspirin to children. You can use acetaminophen (Tylenol) to help with both pain and fever.
  • Take over-the-counter cough medicines. You might take an expectorant (like guaifenosin) during the day to loosen your mucous so it’s easier to cough out. For children, check with your pediatrician before using any cough syrups.
  • Use a humidifier or try steam. A hot shower can be great for loosening up the mucus.

Image Credits : 1, 2, Featured Image 

About Anirudh Singh

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