Learn about various facts about bronchitis such as what it is, what are its causal factors, what are its manifestations, what is done for its treatment, and other facts from this article compiled for your reference.
Air is transported into the lungs with the help of the system known as bronchial tubes. After air is inhaled, these tubes carry it to the tiny branches and smaller cells of the lungs. Now due to several reasons which could be associated to bacterial or viral invasion, smoking or aspirating foreign substances into the lungs, the mucus membranes of these very tubes are caused to get inflamed. And this inflammation is attributed by the term ‘bronchitis’.
Now this disease of the respiratory tract occurs in two forms; acute and chronic (long-lasting). The former type usually stays for less than a period of six weeks, but the latter may recur frequently for more than two years. The symptoms that are caused by this condition are mainly due to the thickening of the bronchial tubes. This thickening shuts off the tiny airways in the lungs thus, giving rise to several symptoms.
For both acute and chronic form of the condition, the most common and classic symptom is a hacking cough. This cough may make the patient spit out mucus which can be yellow-grey, green, white or clear. These can be worsened by a feeling of being tired (sometimes even without any exertion), low-grade fever, chills and an uneasy feeling in the chest. Sore throat, wheezing, nasal congestion, and body aches are some other symptoms that may occur. These symptoms may vary in their severity, depending on whether the problem is acute or chronic. For instance, if the person is diagnosed with acute bronchitis, then he may be troubled by a cough that would last for several weeks. However, the same does not subside even until three months for about two years, then the case might be declared to be one of a chronic bronchitis.
If we speak of acute bronchitis, then more often than not, the cause is detected to be a viral infection in 90% of cases. And the virus that causes it is usually the same pathogen that causes common cold or influenza (flu). This type of the condition, as seen in most patients, begins after a person contracts cold or a sore throat.
When it comes to chronic bronchitis, smoking has been found to be a common offender. A smoker who is diagnosed with acute bronchitis is the most vulnerable to develop the chronic form of the condition. The lungs contain tiny hair-like structures that do the job of cleaning out debris, irritants, and excess mucus. And long-term smoking damages these very structures permanently, thus making the person highly susceptible to develop chronic bronchitis.
Beside the above factors, stuffs such as smog, dust, ammonia, fumes, etc., can also cause the bronchial tubes to get inflamed, and trigger symptoms such as the ones mentioned above.
Fortunately, acute bronchitis resolves on its own within a few days. However, one may continue to cough for some more days. A case of acute bronchitis that is caused by a virus, cannot be treated with antibiotics. Simple self-care measures such as taking plenty of rest, increasing fluid intake, inhaling warm, moist air, and using over-the-counter pain relievers are enough to help the condition resolve sooner. Also, shunning smoking is really important, as it pushes a person closer to develop the chronic form of the condition, with every passing minute.
Chronic bronchitis is incurable. The treatment that is planned for it aims to reduce and relieve the symptoms, and slow down further damage. Shunning smoking, and inculcating a healthy lifestyle do help in making this type of bronchitis less severe thereby, increasing the life expectancy of the patient.
Some More Facts
- Medical experts came across a number of 12.7 million cases of chronic bronchitis in the year 1987
- In the same year, about 78,000 deaths were reported; chronic bronchitis being one major cause
- Every year in the United States of America, doctors attend to 14 million cases of chronic bronchitis
- Most people do not realize that they have chronic bronchitis until the disease progresses to an advanced stage
- People who are involved in occupations such as coal mining, metal molding, and those that expose them to dust and fumes, are the ones with the maximum number of chronic bronchitis
To conclude with one last fact, smoking takes the credit of causing 90% of chronic bronchitis in people who have been smoking for long, and even those who were exposed to second-hand smoke persistently.