Bacterial bronchitis is a respiratory condition that is characterized by the inflammation of bronchi due to bacteria. In this article, we will look into bacterial bronchitis symptoms and treatment options.
The respiratory organs of the human body facilitate the act of breathing, which is a process that is indispensable for our survival. The organs that work in tandem to facilitate the act of breathing include the nasal passage, pharynx, larynx, windpipe, bronchi and the lungs.
Let me give you a basic idea as to how these organs work. The air that we breathe is taken by the windpipe or the trachea, which in turn, bifurcates into two bronchial tubes called bronchi. These tubes take the inhaled air to the lungs, wherein they branch into various smaller airways called bronchioles. The bronchioles branch into tiny alveolar sacs. It is within these sacs that exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide occurs.
Exposure to environmental allergens or inhalation of pathogens can cause inflammation of any of the components of the respiratory system and cause respiratory infections such as bronchitis or pneumonia. The term bronchitis refers to the inflammation of the bronchi. If the inflammation of the bronchi is caused by bacteria, one is diagnosed with bacterial bronchitis. Given below is some information on bacterial bronchitis symptoms along with its causes and treatment options.
The diagnosis of acute or chronic bacterial bronchitis can be determined by the way the symptoms show up. Acute bronchitis is said to occur when there is a rapid onset of symptoms. Inflammation of bronchi is usually caused by viruses, but bacterial bronchitis can occur after viral respiratory infections such as cold or flu. Chronic sinusitis or allergies can also increase the risk of bacterial bronchitis.
Streptococcus, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Chlamydophila pneumoniae and Klebsiella are some of the types of bacteria that may cause bacterial bronchitis. If left untreated, bacterial bronchitis could even progress into pneumonia. It is therefore, important to take any form of bronchitis seriously. People with a compromised immune system are more likely to suffer from such infections.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
In a majority of cases, viruses emerge as the common causal organisms responsible for causing bronchitis. Acute bronchitis is signified by a rapid onset of certain symptoms that resolve within a couple of weeks. On the other hand, in case of chronic bronchitis, the symptoms may last up to four months.
Symptoms of acute bacterial bronchitis include sore throat, runny nose, yellowish-green sputum, chills, wheezing, back pain, malaise, fever and fatigue. Since the symptoms of bacterial bronchitis are similar to those experienced during cold or flu, certain diagnostic tests would be required in order to formulate a diagnosis.
The tests that doctors rely on for bacterial bronchitis diagnosis include sputum analysis and nasal culture. These tests can help in detecting the nature of the infection and also help in the identification of the bacterium that may be responsible for causing the infection. Chest X-ray and blood tests may also be performed in order to assess the effect of this infection on the lungs and the overall health of the patient.
Once bacterial involvement is confirmed, antibiotics are prescribed in order to kill the bacteria and prevent the bacteria from multiplying any further. It is extremely important that the patient completes the entire course of antibiotics. If the patient doesn’t comply to the guidelines regarding use of drugs, acute bronchitis may progress to chronic bronchitis. Doctors may also prescribe painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs. Smoking or indulging in any activity that stresses the immune system may slow down the healing. One must therefore, refrain from any such activity and take proper rest so as to allow the body to recover.
Usually, doctors follow symptomatic approach for alleviating the specific symptoms that a patient might be exhibiting. Bronchodilator inhalers may be prescribed in order to prevent shortness of breath, especially for those suffering from asthma, reactive airway disease or other lung conditions. Use of decongestants may be recommended in order to expel cough. Cough suppressants are usually not prescribed, but if the patient is suffering from violent coughing that is depriving him/her of sleep, a cough suppressant may be prescribed.
Natural remedies such as steam inhalation or nasal irrigation may also help in expelling the mucus and clearing the congestion. One must also stay well-hydrated in order to compensate for the loss of fluids that occur as a result of congestion.
This was a brief overview on bacterial bronchitis. Acute bronchitis is usually caused by viruses, but at times, bacteria may also be present along with the virus. Under these circumstances, antibiotics will be prescribed so as to alleviate the symptoms. The patient must finish the course of antibiotics, and refrain from anything that may further irritate the inflamed airways.