Bronchitis is a condition in which the airway of the lungs, also known as the bronchial tubes, becomes inflamed. Subsequently, a thick layer of mucus typically forms, restricting the passage of air from entering and exiting the lungs. The main symptom of bronchitis is a productive and persistent cough. Other symptoms of bronchitis include difficulty breathing and tightness in the chest.
Chronic or recurrent bouts of bronchitis are typically caused by irritants such as cigarette smoke. The inhaled cigarette smoke irritates the bronchial tubes resulting in the production of mucus. Exposure to this particular irritant, as well as various others, such as dust and certain chemicals, can also lead to chronic episodes of bronchitis.
Schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, or any other persistent symptoms that lead you to believe you may have bronchitis. During your appointment, your doctor may ask you certain questions related to your illness such as: Is your cough productive? Do you have difficulty breathing? Do you notice any tightening in the chest? How long have you been experiencing these symptoms? Are you a smoker? How much do you smoke daily? How long have you been smoking? Is there anything else you may have been exposed to that would trigger such symptoms?
If your physician believes you have chronic bronchitis then he may order certain diagnostic testing in order to ascertain the degree of damage that has been done to your lungs. A pulmonary function test is a simple test in which a person blows into a machine that calculates the amount of air contained in the lungs. Additionally, your physician may also order certain blood tests as well as an x-ray of the chest to rule out other possible findings.
If you do smoke consider stopping now, as in right this very minute. Like, stop reading this post and put out the cigarette! With all the information available regarding the dangers of smoking, there is really no excuse to continue in a habit that can do worse things to your health than cause a case of bronchitis. When you do actually stop smoking you will soon notice you are breathing easier, your endurance has increased, you will not cough as much as you did, and your lungs will have a chance to heal. Furthermore, you will greatly lessen your chances of developing lung cancer. If you are ready to take this major step, ask your doctor how he recommends you should go about quitting.
Other ways in which you can prevent developing bronchitis is to avoid such substances as aerosols which are notorious irritants. Dust and the fumes from certain chemicals can also cause breathing difficulty and lung irritation. Wear a mask when painting or using other like products with overwhelming fumes.
Does Medication Help Treat Bronchitis?
Certain medications called bronchodilators are most often prescribed by doctors to treat chronic bronchitis. This particular medication opens up the bronchial tubes leading to the lungs and allows you healthier respiration. This medication is typically prescribed as an inhaler rather than in oral form. An inhaler is a type of device that acts as a conduit to transport the medication to the right place–in this case, the lungs. In order to receive optimal results from the inhaler, it is imperative that the device be used as recommended by your physician. Misuse of the inhaler will result in unimproved or worsening symptoms.
For those who deal with a more severe bouts of shortness of breath, your doctor may recommend a medication such as theophylline which is administered in pill form.
If symptoms do not improve with either of these medications, your doctor may recommend that you take a course of steroid therapy. Steroid medication is available in pill or inhaled form and will help to minimize inflammation of the airway.
Antibiotics are generally not prescribed for the treatment of chronic bronchitis; however, if it is discovered that the lungs have become infected, antibiotics will help get rid of the infection. Mucus production tends to increase when bronchitis is coupled with a lung infection. The color of the mucus is the key indicator that infection is present. The mucus coughed up in cases where infection is present tends to range in color from yellow to dark green. Fever and worsened shortness of breath may also be present.
The chance of developing secondary lung infection rises when chronic bronchitis is present; therefore, it is wise to get a flu shot each year. It is likewise prudent to get the pneumonia vaccine at least every five years.
Be aware that the damage incurred due to repetitive bouts of bronchitis can result in the restriction of air flow into the lungs. Your doctor may prescribe oxygen if chronic bronchitis is severe. If such is the case, be sure to use as recommended. Oxygen is vital to the body.
How Can I Avoid Chronic Bronchitis?
Begin by implementing a regular exercise regimen. Shoot for 30 minutes of exercise at least three times a week. Speak with your private physician about putting together an exercise program that is right for you.
Pulmonary rehabilitation is another option that is typically administered by respiratory therapists who are trained in administering breathing treatments. Ask your doctor if this method of exercise is right for you.
Finally, a method called pursed-lip breathing may also be beneficial in boosting lung capacity. For this exercise, take a deep breath and then exhale slowly while puckering your lips. This type of breathing can help to decrease rapid breathing which often is associated with chronic bronchitis.
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