Inflammation of the mucous membrane in the bronchial tubes could be dangerous, as It causes bronchospasm and coughing, which are the major symptoms of bronchitis.
Bronchitis is an infection that affects the bronchi or tubes that carry air to the lungs. People who have bronchitis often cough up thickened mucus, which can be discoloured.
According to a medical officer, Dr. Ovo Ogbinaka, bronchitis is a condition where the lining of the bronchial tubes becomes inflamed.
He said: “Bronchitis can lead to other complications if left untreated. Individuals with bronchitis have a reduced ability to breathe air and oxygen into their lungs. They cannot also clear heavy mucus or phlegm from their airways.
“Bronchitis may be either acute or chronic. Often developing from a cold or other respiratory infection, acute bronchitis is very common. Chronic bronchitis, a more serious condition, is a constant irritation or inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, often due to smoking.
“Acute bronchitis, also called a chest cold, usually improves within a week to 10 days without lasting effects, although the cough may linger for weeks.
“However, if you have repeated bouts of bronchitis, you may have chronic bronchitis, which requires medical attention. Chronic bronchitis is one of the conditions included in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).”
Also, an epidemiologist, Dr. Anthony Nwanoey, said acute bronchitis is inflammation of your bronchial tree. The bronchial tree consists of tubes that carry air into your lungs.
He said: “When these tubes get infected, they swell and mucus (thick fluid) forms inside them. This makes it hard for you to breathe. There are two types of bronchitis.
“Acute bronchitis is a shorter illness that commonly follows a cold or viral infection, such as the flu and only lasts a short time (several weeks or less). Chronic bronchitis is a serious, ongoing illness characterised by a persistent, mucus-producing cough that is long lasting and can reoccur. It usually is caused by constant irritation, such as from smoking.”
Bronchitis or pneumonia
According to experts, when a cold or the flu sets in, you probably know how it’s going to unfold. It starts maybe with that scratch in the back of your throat. You start to feel run-down.
But when it comes to bronchitis and pneumonia, it might be a little harder to know what’s going on and how to tell them apart.
Bronchitis is when your bronchial tubes, which carry air to your lungs, get infected and swollen.
Pneumonia is another infection in your lungs, but instead of the bronchial tubes, you get it in tiny air sacs in your lungs called alveoli. It can be mild, but sometimes serious, especially for the very young, adults 65 or older, and people with weaker immune systems.
Acute bronchitis is usually caused by viruses, typically the same viruses that cause colds and flu (influenza). Antibiotics don’t kill viruses, so this type of medication isn’t useful in most cases of bronchitis.
The most common cause of chronic bronchitis is cigarette smoking. Air pollution and dust or toxic gases in the environment or workplace also can contribute to the condition.
According to Ogbinaka, acute bronchitis is normally caused by viruses that also caused colds and flu. He however added that it could also be caused by bacterial infection. It could also be caused by exposure to substances that irritate the lungs, such as tobacco smoke, dust, fumes, vapours and air pollution.
On his part, Nwanoey said viruses most often cause acute bronchitis. He said: “They attack the lining of the bronchial tree and cause inflammation. The same viruses that cause colds can cause acute bronchitis. The bacterium that causes whooping cough can also cause acute bronchitis. This bacterium is called bordetella pertussis.
“You can catch a virus from breathing it in or skin contact. As your body fights these viruses, swelling occurs and mucus is produced. It takes time for your body to kill the viruses and heal damage to your bronchial tubes. People often develop acute bronchitis after a viral chest infection.
“Lesser-known causes are bacteria or fungal infections. Exposure to irritants, such as smoke, dust, or fumes, also can cause acute bronchitis. You are at greater risk if your bronchial tree already has damage. If you have GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), also known as heartburn, you can get acute bronchitis when stomach acid gets into the bronchial tree.
“On the other hand, chronic bronchitis is caused by repeated irritation and damage to the lung and airway tissue. Chronic bronchitis is one type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The inflamed bronchial tubes produce a lot of mucus.”
Experts say the symptoms included persistent cough, which may produce mucus, wheezing, low fever and chills, chest tightening, sore throat, body aches and breathlessness.
Other symptoms, according to them, are headaches, blocked nose and sinuses.
they advised anyone with such symptoms to see medical personnel immediately for treatment.
However, for either acute bronchitis or chronic bronchitis, signs and symptoms may include:
• Production of mucus (sputum), which can be clear, white, yellowish-gray or green in color-rarely, it may be streaked with blood
• Sore throat;
• Shortness of breathe;
• Slight fever and chills;
• Chest discomfort/congestion;
If you have acute bronchitis, you might have cold symptoms, such as a mild headache or body aches. While these symptoms usually improve in about a week, you may have a nagging cough that lingers for several weeks.
Bronchitis signs for children
Children may have a runny nose
, mild fever
, cough up sputum or vomit mucus
, chronic cough, which may continue beyond 10 days and contains clear or coloured mucus
, shortness of breath
, chest tightness
, and sore throat from persistent coughing
Treatment and diagnoses
Acute bronchitis is diagnosed by the patient’s history. A detailed physical examination needs to be conducted and tests (fluid e.g. saliva or mucus).
Home remedies for bronchitis
You can use painkiller like aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen to soothe your sore throat.
Humidifiers create moisture in the air you breathe. This can help loosen mucus in your nasal passages and chest, making it easier to breathe.
Drinking a lot of warm water or fluid, such as water or tea to thin out mucus will help out. This makes it easier to cough it up or blow it out through your nose.
For acute bronchitis, adequate rest is very important. Inhale moist air from a hot shower so that the mucous remains moist and can be sneeze out easily
. In order to calm down dry throat due to the infection, take cough tablets
. Medications like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, etc. can be used for fever and body pains.
Consumption of adequate fluids is beneficial also.
For chronic bronchitis, other things that can irritate your lungs, like perfumes, hairspray, spray deodorant and spray paint should be avoided.
Also, avoid breathing in dust or chemical fumes. Wear a mask over your nose and mouth if you are using paint or paint remover, and do not use anything with strong fumes.
Cigarette smoke: People who smoke or who live with a smoker are at higher risk of both acute bronchitis and chronic bronchitis.
Low resistance: This may result from another acute illness, such as a cold or from a chronic condition that compromises your immune system. Older adults, infants and young children have greater vulnerability to infection.
Exposure to irritants on the job: Your risk of developing bronchitis is greater if you work around certain lung irritants, such as grains or textiles, or are exposed to chemical fumes.
Gastric reflux: Repeated bouts of severe heartburn can irritate your throat and make you more prone to developing bronchitis.