Bronchitis is a common respiratory disease caused by the inflammation of mucous membranes in the lungs’ bronchial passageways. It can be either acute or chronic. The disease occurs as a result of exposure to bacteria, a virus, pollution, or contaminated air. In response to this exposure, the mucous membrane swells up. The lungs’ tiny airways, known as bronchioles, become restricted, causing much discomfort. Smokers are at very high risk of developing both types of bronchitis. We treat acute bronchitis with antibiotics and cough medicine. If left untreated, individuals recover in about two weeks. However chronic bronchitis, which lasts at least three months each year, requires more serious medical intervention.
A cough is the most characteristic symptom of bronchitis, with almost every patient exhibiting persistent cough. With acute bronchitis, the cough may initially produce phlegm and begin to get drier as the condition lengthens. A hacking cough can, in extreme cases, become so severe that it prevents the suffering individual from sleeping. With chronic bronchitis, the cough is usually productive, producing a large amount of mucous. In rare cases, a patient may cough up blood, which requires prompt medical attention.
Phlegm (or Absence of Phlegm)
Typically, not much phlegm accompanies a cough associated with acute bronchitis. Even when it is present, it is usually replaced by a drier cough after a few days. With chronic bronchitis, phlegm lasts almost as long as the flare-up does. Phlegm is usually clear or white. If it’s yellow or green, it may indicate the presence of a bacterial infection alongside the bronchial condition.
Several bronchitis patients complain of chest pains that are usually mild, but discomforting nonetheless. Chest pain may a dull, enduring ache, or more commonly, a shooting pain that occurs when the individual coughs. If the chest pain is severe, consult a doctor immediately, since bronchitis typically causes only low-intensity soreness.
Usually, the earliest sign of an oncoming bout of bronchitis is a sore throat that ranges from mildly discomforting to highly problematic. The raw, itchiness at the back of the throat becomes pronounced when swallowing, and in some cases, while talking as well. The soreness may persist as long as a cough remains. Any medicine prescribed for the other bronchial symptoms typically remedies a sore throat, too.
Wheezing is the slight whistling or rattling sound that accompanies the respiratory process, especially exhalation. When the airways in the lungs get restricted due to bronchial inflammation, air entering and exiting the lungs is exposed to more pressure, which creates the wheezing sound. Wheezing is more common in patients of chronic bronchitis and is more severe after exertive activities like climbing stairs and running.
Nasal Blockage or Runny Nose
The virus or bacteria responsible for bronchitis usually first attacks the nasal passage and then makes its way to the mucous membranes of the lungs. Therefore, nasal issues such as blockage or a runny nose are among the first indicators of bronchitis. These symptoms are more prevalent in children, whose immature immune systems are more vulnerable.
Shortness of Breath
Bronchitis patients often experience shortness of breath because the inflammation that causes the pulmonary airways to shrink restricts the amount of air entering and exiting the lungs. Therefore, the slightest physical exertion creates a deficit of oxygen in the body, causing breathlessness. More common in patients of chronic bronchitis, such shortness of breath can become problematic during more severe episodes. If it happens several times a day, seek professional medical help right away.
A fever accompanying bronchitis is usually less than 100 degrees F. This low-grade fever usually lasts for the first few days of the infection and is easily remedied with mild medication. However, if the fever crosses 101 degrees F, alert your doctor as soon as possible. High fever indicates the risk of further complications or a very severe condition that requires urgent medical attention.
Most people with this condition complain of malaise, which is a general feeling of ill-health and discomfort. This feeling is usually short-lived, disappearing speedily once treatment and recovery begin. It occurs mostly because breathing, one of the most basic bodily functions, is compromised.
Along with other respiratory diseases, bronchitis can cause adrenal fatigue. In this condition, the adrenal glands are unable to cope with stress provoked by physical, mental or external disturbances. These glands are responsible for the body’s response to stress through the mobilization of hormones that determine energy levels, immunity, and heart rate. When continual illnesses stress the system at multiple levels, the adrenal glands falter, and the suffering individual experiences weariness regardless of how well-rested they might be. The fatigue lasts almost as long as the other symptoms, though it may become less pronounced as recovery proceeds.