Bronchitis (pronounced brong-KIE-tis) is an inflammation of the air passages between the nose and the lungs. It affects the trachea (pronounced TRAY-kee-uh), or windpipe, and the bronchi. The bronchi (pronounced BRON-kee) are air tubes through which air flows into and out of the lungs.
Bronchitis is an acute inflammation of the air passages within the lungs. It occurs when the trachea (windpipe) and the large and small bronchi (airways) within the lungs become inflamed because of infection or other causes.
The thin mucous lining of these airways can become irritated and swollen.
The cells that make up this lining may leak fluids in response to the inflammation.
Coughing is a reflex that works to clear secretions from the lungs. Often the discomfort of a severe cough leads you to seek medical treatment.
Types of Bronchitis
There are two main types of bronchitis: Acute and Chronic.
Acute bronchitis may follow or accompany the flu, or it may begin without having had an infection. Acute bronchitis usually lasts about 10 days. If you smoke or are around damaging fumes (such as those in certain kinds of factories), you are more likely to get acute bronchitis and to have it longer. This is because your bronchial tree is already damaged.
Chronic bronchitis is a condition involving the inflammation of the main airways (bronchial tubes) in the lungs that continues for a long period or keeps recurring. When the airways are irritated, thick mucus (also called sputum) forms in them. The mucus plugs up the airways and makes it hard to get air into the lungs, leading to shortness of breath and persistent cough.
Infectious bronchitis generally begins with the symptoms of a common cold: runny nose, sore throat, fatigue, chilliness, and back and muscle aches. A slight fever (100° to 101° F) may be present. The onset of cough (usually dry at first) signals the beginning of acute bronchitis. With viral bronchitis, small amounts of white mucus are often coughed up. When the coughed-up mucus changes from white to green or yellow, the condition may have been complicated by a bacterial infection.
Causes of Bronchitis
Bronchitis is mainly caused due to certain germs, the susceptibility of certain constitutions cannot be denied. Ayurveda ascribes its onset to impairment of the digestive process, where anyone or all digestive organs could be at fault. According to the theory of ayurveda, if digestive process is cured to normal then boronchits can also be cured to normal.
Bronchitis is predominantly caused by smoking, and has also been linked to pneumoconiosis, excessive alcohol consumption and exposure to cold and draught. Expectorant drugs may be used. When effective, they loosen secretions in the air passages and increase expectoration. Actually, the proverbial remedy, chicken soup, as long as it has plenty of pepper, garlic and possibly curry powder, can be helpful for the same purpose.
Medicines called bronchodilators that are usually prescribed to treat asthma will help to open the bronchial tubes and clear out mucus.
Medicines called mucolytics which thin or loosen mucus in the airways, making it easier to cough up can also be used to treat chronic bronchitis.
Persistent symptoms and more severe disease are treated with anti-inflammatory medicines called steroids (of the glucocorticoid type) which are given with an inhaler.