Productive cough, the characteristic symptom of bronchitis, is often confused with usual cold symptoms and is ignored most of the times. People suffering from bronchitis keep coughing for months together considering that it is common cold. If you’re also among those who overlook uneasiness caused by persistent cough, it’s time to understand whether your cough indicates a serious problem like bronchitis.
Bronchitis is the inflammation of the bronchial tubes that connect the airway or the windpipe to the lungs. Acute bronchitis, a mild form of bronchitis, is caused due to a viral infection, while chronic bronchitis is mainly caused by smoking cigarettes. If the diagnosis is delayed, it may result in severe, permanent damage to the lungs.
Bronchitis probably doesn’t develop unless the person suffers from a cold or some other upper respiratory infection. So if you have runny nose, sinus infection, and mild cough, you probably are suffering from a common cold.
If your cold worsens and you develop a persistent productive cough, then you might have bronchitis.
Also, if you have fever along with other symptoms, you might have bronchitis. Read more about causes, symptoms and treatment of productive cough.
Bronchitis broadly classified into two categories:
Acute bronchitis: It is very commonly found in people who suffer from respiratory infections or common cold. It generally improves with appropriate treatment within a couple of days without any long lasting effects, except extended period of coughing.
Chronic bronchitis: It is a serious condition included in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It arises due to persistent irritation of the bronchial tubes. It is commonly found in smokers. Recurring bronchitis is also a problem which needs proper medical attention.
The most common symptom of bronchitis is persistent cough. However, there might be other signs that are observed in people suffering from bronchitis. These include -
- Cough with phlegm
- Chest discomfort
Read in detail about 6 symptoms of bronchitis that you need to watch out for!
Your doctor will first examine you based on your symptoms. If bronchitis is suspected you may have to undergo a lung function test. Reduced lung function may indicate bronchitis. To eliminate the possibility of pneumonia, a chest X-ray and sample from the mucus may be taken.
The treatment options are dependent on different types of bronchitis:
Acute bronchitis: It can be managed well with home remedies and a few medicines. People with bronchitis are advised to get sufficient rest and drink lots of water for faster recovery. A mixture of honey and lemon can also help to treat infection. Here are few more natural remedies for cough and cold.
Chronic bronchitis: This condition cannot be reversed, if it has caused severe lung damage. Bronchodilators and steroids are two classed of drugs that are used to treat the condition. Bronchodilators relax the smooth muscles around bronchi allowing expansion of the airways. Steroids are given to reduce inflammation and bronchial swelling. Sometimes pulmonary rehabilitation involving exercising and breathing techniques is required to improve lung function.
Chronic bronchitis reduces the lung capacity drastically and may also cause respiratory failure. This has a huge impact on the quality of life of the person. People who continue to smoke may severely damage their lungs. There is a possibility for a person suffering from bronchitis to acquire a secondary infection like pneumonia. Read more about causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of pneumonia.
The best way to prevent bronchitis is instant diagnosis and medication. Do not ignore persistent cough because it can lead to bronchitis.
Chronic bronchitis can be prevented by quitting smoking and also by avoiding passive smoking. Avoiding inhalation of dust and air-borne chemicals can also prevent the incidence of bronchitis. Here’s more information on cough caused by allergies