Winter is definitely bronchitis season and many people find themselves succumbing to a bad cough all season long. However, there are ways of treating this type of chronic cough without the condition becoming so alarming that you need to huff on a Bronchodilator all day or take Corticosteroids.
Studies have also shown that antibiotics are not an effective treatment for chronic bronchitis which is the kind of ailment that seems to stick around all winter and spring for some people.
What is Bronchitis?
Bronchitis is the inflammation or obstruction of the bronchi, the medium sized breathing tubes that lead to the lungs.
Bronchitis can either be acute or chronic. Acute bronchitis is usually caused by an infection, which can be bacterial, viral Chlamydia, mycoplasmal or caused by a combination of agents. It typically follows an upper respiratory infection.
Chronic bronchitis is not necessarily caused by infection and is generally part of a syndrome called COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Chronic bronchitis is defined clinically as a persistent cough that produces sputum (phlegm), for at least three months in two consecutive years.
In both acute and chronic bronchitis there can be a build up of mucus plus coughing, fever, pain in the chest or back, fatigue, sore throat and a case of the chills.
The cough may be expectorating, in other words – mucus is coughed up. The cough can be wet or dry and wheezing may be present.
Causes of Bronchitis
Acute bronchitis is usually caused by an infection, which can be bacterial, viral Chlamydia, mycoplasmal or caused by a combination of agents. It typically follows upper respiratory infections.
Chronic bronchitis results from chronic irritation of the lungs such as exposure to cigarette smoke or other noxious fumes. Allergies may also cause chronic bronchitis.
Environmental factors may also play a role. People who live or work in unhealthy environments or who are exposed to too much dampness, cold or dust are more vulnerable to bronchitis than most.
Self Care is Crucial
If it has a viral cause then treating it with antibiotics may make it worse.
Resting in bed during the early stages when fever is present is highly recommended. You should also drink plenty of fluids including water, herbal teas and soups.
Adding moisture to the air by using a humidifier, vaporizer or a pan of water may help. Applying a hot water bottle on the chest and back may also help aid in sleeping and reduce inflammation.
A common treatment for chronic bronchitis is a bronchodilator, which helps to temporarily open constricted bronchii (bronchial tubes.) Short-term acting bronchodialator medications relieve acute attacks of coughing and wheezing. Long-term acting bronchodialotor medications contain steroidal compounds that help relieve chronic conditions.
Above all stay away from smoke and second hand smok!
Taking Care of Your Lungs
Most cases of acute bronchitis are self-limiting with full recovery in a matter of weeks. Most cases are resolved in twenty to thirty days. In some cases however the condition can lead to pneumonia. This is more likely to occur in people who also have a chronic respiratory disease.
Over time chronic bronchitis causes the heart and lungs to work harder which can lead to conditions such as pulmonary hypertension, enlargement of the heart and ultimately heart failure. Chronic bronchitis might also cause chronic asthma to develop as well.
Our naturopaths at the Pinewood Natural Health Centre can recommend herbs, natural expectorants, homeopathy, massage, nutritional support and acupuncture that can help a great deal with this often hard-to-beat condition.