Bronchial tubes, located in your lungs, carry air to the lungs and helps you breathe. When the lining of the tubes gets inflamed, it produces discolored mucus and coughs. Coughing is the primary symptom of bronchitis because it’s the body’s reflex response to expelling the mucus.
What Is It?
Bronchitis can either be acute (the most common) or chronic. Acute bronchitis is caused by a virus and at times bacteria. The cold and flu influenza is the chief cause of the bronchial tube inflammation. Chronic bronchitis, on the other hand, is caused by prolonged smoking. When you smoke cigarettes or cigars, the chemical compounds can get stuck to the tubes and cause inflammation.
Acute bronchitis symptoms include chest congestion, shortness of breath, fatigue, fever, body chills, wheezing and runny nose. These symptoms disappear after a few weeks, but for chronic bronchitis, you will experience persistent symptoms for two to three years.
Bronchitis does not cause any life-threatening complications. However, you need to come to our emergency room, when you experience, fever, a cough that lasts for more than three weeks, or unexplained weight loss.
Bronchitis is a viral disease, and because of that medication can’t help much, but the doctor can prescribe antibiotics if bacteria are the cause. Most of the time, though you will have to ride it alone and a little self-care will go a long way.
Tips for Managing Bronchitis
Both acute and chronic bronchitis are caused by irritants whether it mucus or smoking. So, the first step is to avoid irritants and anything that can affect your lungs. Other ways include:
- Stay hydrated
Drinking water will not only keep you hydrated but will also thin out the mucus making it easy for the lungs to expel it. Furthermore, if you have bronchitis with fever, chances are you are already dehydrated due to the loss of fluids. Taking water will help you stay hydrated, but avoid caffeinated beverages as they can cause dehydration.
When you are fighting an infection, your body craves rest. Rest is the fast ticket to an acute illness recovery. Not only that but getting enough rest can help strengthen your immunity which in turn helps to fight the infection.
Did you know people who are sleep deprived are at a higher risk of getting cold flu–a precursor for bronchitis? So, give your body the much-needed rest.
- Steam up
Moisture and steam loosen mucus and also alleviates the wheezing sound when you cough. You can use a humidifier to keep your nostrils clear or take a steam bath. Adding a drop of eucalyptus to the water can help unclog the airways.
- Gaggle with saltwater
Using saltwater every day can help clear the mucus. Salt is not antimicrobial, and therefore it will not treat the virus but will improve your symptoms. Saltwater may also help reduce upper respiratory tract infections like colds.
- Use over-the-counter medications
Pain medications such as ibuprofen can help relieve pain. However, if you have a cough, it’s better to avoid cough medications unless the cough keeps you awake at night. Remember cough is your body’s way of getting rid of irritants. Instead of cough medicine, try using throat lozenges. A mixture of honey and lemon can also work great for coughs.
- Quit smoking
Smoking inflames your lungs, affects your immune system, and also your oral health. So, why not give your lungs a rest by quitting smoking?
Besides quitting smoking, you need to also make lifestyle adjustments such as incorporating exercise to your daily regimen as too much weight can affect your breathing. Furthermore, a change in your diet can go a long way in boosting your immunity and keeping you healthy.
Try to eat more vegetables, fruits, and vitamin D rich foods. Vitamin D can also help improve the immunes system. According to research, low levels of vitamin D are associated with reduced lung function and respiratory illness.
Bronchitis can be managed at home with the above-mentioned remedies. However, if you experience shortness of breath and have a fever, you need to seek emergency care. Visit our 24-hour emergency care for treatment.