Bronchitis: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

Bronchitis is a common infection that causes inflammation and irritation of the main airways of the lungs or bronchi. This causes inflammation or inflammation in the channel.

Bronchitis and pneumonia have similar symptoms, including coughing, fever, fatigue, and a feeling of heaviness in the chest. This disease can sometimes develop into pneumonia.

Even so, these two diseases are different. First, the disease occurs in the bronchial tubes, while pneumonia occurs in the alveoli or air sacs in the lungs. Second, the symptoms of pneumonia are usually worse and even life-threatening, especially in the elderly and vulnerable people.

Type of bronchitis

Based on its severity, bronchitis is divided into two types:

1. Acute bronchitis

This type is one of the most common respiratory infections and most often affects children under 5 years old. Usually lasts for one to two weeks.

2. Chronic bronchitis

Is a bronchial infection that lasts more than two weeks. This type is more common in adults over the age of 40 years. Chronic bronchitis is a long-term serious disorder that often requires regular medical care.

Causes of bronchitis

The cause of bronchitis is something that doctors need to know before administering the drug.

1. Viral and Bacterial Infection

Generally caused by lung infection and 90% of cases found are caused by a virus. Repeated attacks of acute bronchitis, which weaken and irritate the bronchi from time to time can result in chronic bronchitis.

In most cases, acute bronchitis is usually caused by a viral infection, but sometimes it can also be caused by bacteria. If the body’s defense condition is good, the mucous membrane can return to normal after recovering from the infection. This healing process usually lasts for several days.

2. Inhaling irritants

This disease can be caused by inhalation of irritants, such as smoke, tobacco smoke, and chemicals in household products. Smoking is a cause of chronic bronchitis, both active smokers and passive smokers. Long-term smoking can cause the bronchial tubes to produce excessive mucus.

Chronic bronchitis sufferers often develop another lung disease associated with smoking called emphysema. Emphysema is a condition of the air sacs in the lungs damaged, which causes shortness of breath.

3. Exposure at Work

Chronic bronchitis usually affects people who work or live near industrial areas such as mining. Workers may be at risk for chronic bronchitis and other chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) if they are often exposed to materials that can damage the lungs. This disease will usually subside after no longer being exposed to irritants at work.

Here are some ingredients or substances that cause bronchitis:

  • Grain dust
  • Textile (fabric fiber)
  • Strong acid
  • Ammonia
  • Chlorine

Risk Factors for Bronchitis

Here are some factors that increase the risk of bronchitis:

  • Smoke.
  • Suffered from asthma and allergies.
  • Having a weaker immune system, which sometimes occurs in older adults, sufferers of ongoing disease, and infants and young children. Colds are even more likely to increase risk, because the body fights germs.

While the following can increase your risk of developing chronic bronchitis:

  • Female smokers are more at risk than male smokers.
  • Have a family history of lung disease.

Is bronchitis contagious?

The answer can vary. If caused by a virus, then this disease is usually contagious. But for conditions that are classified as chronic, usually not contagious.

Symptoms of bronchitis

The main symptom is dry cough. But it is likely that the cough will emit a thick yellowish gray mucus (although this is not always the case).

Symptoms of acute and chronic bronchitis can affect breathing, including:

  • Tightness in the chest – when the chest feels full or blocked
  • Coughing with clear, white, yellow or green mucus
  • Hard to breathe
  • Wheezing or loud sounds like whistling when breathing

Chronic bronchitis, cough lasts for at least three months and may return two years in a row.

While in acute bronchitis, a cough may persist for several weeks after other symptoms have disappeared. Other symptoms:

  • The body feels sick and feverish
  • Mild fever
  • Colds – nasal congestion
  • Sore throat

When to see a doctor?

Mild symptoms may not need to see a doctor, but bronchitis is similar to pneumonia. It’s important to pay attention to changes in the symptoms that are experienced. See your doctor immediately if you have symptoms such as the following:

  • A cough that causes persistent chest pain. A cough like this can damage the air sacs in the lungs.
  • The cough lasts more than a week and the mucus becomes darker, thicker, an increase in sputum volume accompanied by blood loss.
  • Followed by lung problems, chronic heart, or infection. Respiratory infections can make the body vulnerable to more serious lung diseases such as pneumonia.
  • Difficulty in breathing. This may be a symptom of a medical condition such as asthma, emphysema (chronic obstructive pulmonary) or heart disease.
  • High fever or fever lasting more than three days.

Bronchitis diagnosis

Initially it might be difficult for you to distinguish the symptoms of this disease from the common cold. For that, you should consult a doctor to get the right diagnosis. During a physical examination, the doctor will use a stethoscope to examine the lungs.

Here are some tests that your doctor may recommend:

1. Phlegm Test

Phlegm or mucus that comes out when coughing can be tested to see whether the disease suffered can be treated with antibiotics. Phlegm can also be tested for signs of other lung infections such as tuberculosis.

2. Chest X-ray

In addition to diagnosing this disease, chest X-ray can help determine whether you have pneumonia or other conditions that can explain the condition of your cough. This test is very important if you have ever been or are a smoker.

3. Lung Function Test

This test requires that you blow into an instrument called a spirometer, to measure how much air the lungs can hold and how fast you can expel air from the lungs. This test also serves to check the symptoms of asthma or emphysema.

Complications

Pneumonia is the most common complication. This disease occurs when the infection spreads to the lungs, causing small air sacs in the lungs to be filled with fluid. About 1 in 20 sufferers also experience pneumonia.

People who have a higher risk of developing pneumonia include, older people, smokers, health conditions (sufferers of heart, liver or kidney disease), and a weak immune system.

Treatment and Prevention of Bronchitis

Treatment of acute bronchitis can be done by taking simple steps like the following:

  • Plenty of rest
  • Drink lots of water
  • Avoid exposure (smoke, chemicals)

After acute bronchitis is cured, the prevention is to adopt a healthy lifestyle by avoiding cigarettes and using pollution masks if the air is polluted. In cases of severe chronic bronchitis, oral steroids, inhalers or additional oxygen can be given to reduce inflammation.

Treatment with antibiotics will not be given in cases of this disease caused by a virus because it will not have any effect. Giving antibiotics is necessary if there is a possibility of bacterial infection. If you experience an increase in the amount of mucus and thickness, you have been infected with bacteria. The prescription for antibiotics is usually for a minimum of five days.

If you have chronic bronchitis, your lungs are vulnerable to infection. You should immediately get pneumonia vaccination. Vaccination will protect you from bacteria or viruses from this disease. It is recommended to consult a doctor before vaccinating.

Also read: Symptoms and Treatment of Bronchitis in Children and Infants

Keep in mind, do not take drugs (cough suppressants) without a doctor’s prescription. As with acute bronchitis, a productive cough associated with chronic bronchitis can help clear the lungs of excessive mucus. In fact, doctors can recommend expectorants (sputum thinners) if the cough is relatively dry.

However, if there are changes in the color, volume, or thickness of the phlegm, it indicates that someone has been infected with bacteria. In this case, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to fight bacteria.

Meanwhile, if the patient has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), doctors usually prescribe a temporary bronchodilator to help dilate the airways. If there is a defect in the transfer of oxygen from the lungs into the bloodstream, the doctor may prescribe oxygen therapy that can be given at the hospital.

Research shows that a person who stops smoking despite being in the stage of chronic bronchitis and severe COPD, can not only reduce the severity of symptoms, but can also increase life expectancy.

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