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Bronchitis is an infection of the main airways of the lungs, which causes the airways to become inflamed.
Bronchitis is classified as Acute (short term) or Chronic (long term). The main symptom of Bronchitis is a hacking cough.
Acute Bronchitis: is a very common disease, especially during the winter months. In the vast majority of cases, Bronchitis is caused by a viral infection. It often follows a cold, sore throat or flu. The condition affects both adults and children. Acute Bronchitis lasts for only a short period of time, usually resolving without treatment. In some cases however, the condition can be more severe and long lasting. If the infection lasts longer than three months, it is known as chronic Bronchitis.
Chronic Bronchitis: is a cough or mucous production that has lasted for at least three months. Chronic inflammation of the airways can increase mucous production and may damage the lungs. The symptoms are coughing and breathlessness, which will get worse over the years. When lung damage results in airflow restriction, the term COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is used. Chronic Bronchitis is usually related to smoking.
Bronchitis can be caused by either a virus or bacteria, although viral Bronchitis is much more common. Bronchitis can also be triggered by breathing in irritant substances, such as pollution, chemicals in household products or tobacco smoke. Smoking is the main cause of chronic Bronchitis. Inhaling second-hand smoke also increases the risk of Bronchitis.
Other causes include; inhalation of materials that can damage the lungs, such as grain dust, textiles (fabric fibres), ammonia, strong acids or chlorine. This is sometimes referred to as occupational Bronchitis, and usually eases once you are no longer exposed to the irritant substance.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
A hacking cough is the main symptom of Bronchitis. In some cases, yellow-grey mucus may be brought up. The cough may last for several weeks after other symptoms have gone. The continual coughing motion may cause sore chest and stomach muscles.
Other symptoms may include:
• Tightness in the chest
• Sore throat
• Slight fever and chills
• Blocked nose and sinuses
• Aches and pains
These symptoms, although unpleasant, are usually not severe. The symptoms of Bronchitis, however, can be similar to those of pneumonia, so it is important to consult your Doctor if symptoms worsen or do not resolve.
Cough and mucus production are the most common symptoms which usually last for at least three months and occur daily. Mucus may be clear, yellowish, greenish, or occasionally, blood-tinged. Cough and mucus production tends to be worse in the early part of the day. As the day progresses, less mucus is produced.
Dyspnoea (shortness of breath) gradually increases with the severity of the disease. Usually, people with chronic Bronchitis get short of breath with activity and begin coughing. Dyspnoea at rest usually signals that COPD or emphysema has developed. Wheezing (a coarse whistling sound produced when airways are partially obstructed) often occurs.
In addition, symptoms of fatigue, sore throat, muscle aches, nasal congestion, and headaches can accompany the major symptoms.
Always consult your Doctor for diagnosis and advice. In no way is this information intended to replace the advice of a medical practitioner.
• Most cases of acute Bronchitis will clear up over a period of days without the need for special treatment. If the fever lasts more than 5 days, or the symptoms are severe, see your Doctor.
• Immunisation is available against many of the viruses that cause Bronchitis.
• Antibiotics may be prescribed if a bacterial infection is present. These medicines are not effective against viral infection.
• Tobacco smoke is the most common cause of chronic Bronchitis. Quitting smoking will help you to recover from Bronchitis and will slow the rate of lung function decline and development of COPD.
• If you are diagnosed with chronic Bronchitis, your Doctor may refer you to a respiratory medicine specialist.
• Avoid inhaling irritating substances such as cigarette smoke, pollution, chemicals etc.
• When you have recovered from Bronchitis, regular aerobic exercise can help improve lung function.
• Drink plenty of fluids. Pure water, herbal teas, soups and diluted vegetable juices are recommended. Carrot and ginger are excellent for the respiratory tract.
• Include garlic and onions in the diet. These are natural antibiotics and may help reduce infection and inflammation.
• Foods high in vitamin A are thought to promote healing, strengthen lung tissue and boost the immune system. Sources include carrots, mangoes, parsley, spinach and pumpkin.
• Foods rich in vitamin C may boost the immune system, reduce infection and promote healing. Sources include lemons, grapefruit, oranges, limes, grapes, strawberries, cherries and pawpaw.
• Avoid mucus forming foods such as dairy foods, heavy starches, processed foods, sweets, white flour and saturated fats
• Herbal teas such as plantain, thyme, liquorice and elderflower are thought to be useful for bronchial infections. Use honey instead of sugar as a sweetener.
Nutritional supplements may be of benefit if dietary intake is inadequate.
• Vitamin C is a major antioxidant present in the airway surface liquid of the lung. It may also reduce infection and inflammation.
• Cod liver oil is an excellent supplement as it has high amounts of vitamin A and D, which are important for healthy immune function and also aid in restoration of the mucous membranes. Cod liver oil also contains essential fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory.
• Garlic and echinacea in high doses can be taken to help fight off infection.
• Golden seal can be taken to help in the restoration of the Mucous membranes.
• Myrrh, mullein, slippery elm, thyme, elder, horseradish and fenugreek are well known for their benefits to the respiratory tract.
The listed essential oils are suggested for the relief of Bronchitis. The most specific oils are shown in capitals.
Aniseed, BENZOIN, Cajuput, Cedar wood, EUCALYPTUS, FRANKINCENSE, Ginger, Grapefruit, Lavender, Jasmine, MYRRH, Pine, Thyme.
MASSAGE: Blend any single listed essential oil or combination of several essential oils - 5 drops (total) to 10mL (1/3 fl oz) vegetable carrier oil such as Sweet Almond, Apricot Kernel. Apply twice daily to chest, upper back and throat with gentle massage.
STEAM INHALATION: In a bowl containing one litre of steaming water, add 5 drops (total) of essential oil; cover head with towel and inhale while leaning over bowl. Keep eyes closed.
VAPORISATION: Add 5 drops (total) single essential oil or combination of several essential oils listed to water in oil burner.
These recommendations are for an adult. For infants over 3 months and up to 2 years, use 1/4 dose i.e.: 1 drop to 10ml (1/3 fl oz); children 2 -12 years and during pregnancy use 1/2 dose.
Ask your MedAux Pharmacist for advice.
1. Follow the Diet Hints.
2. Get plenty of rest and fluids.
3. Check with your Pharmacist before using a cough mixture. There are many different ingredients in cough mixtures, which may not all be suitable for Bronchitis.
4. Identify and avoid any environmental triggers that aggravate Bronchitis.
5. Quit smoking. Ask your Pharmacist for help and advice on quitting.
6. Paracetamol or ibuprofen may be given for relief of pain and fever.