Bronchitis is the inflammation of the air passages between the nose and the lungs. It may also include the trachea and the windpipe and also the larger air tubes of the lungs that bring in air from the trachea. The interior linings of the bronchial tubes swell thereby reducing their effective diameter. Due to this the amount of air passing through the trachea into the lungs is reduced and so does the amount of waste gas coming from the lungs. This triggers the production of thicker mucous which further blocks the air passages.
Bronchitis can be acute or chronic. Acute bronchitis is of short duration and is cured within two weeks while chronic bronchitis persists for much longer duration. Acute bronchitis is caused either by a bacterial or viral infection while chronic bronchitis is a serious lung disease and is mainly caused by inhaling respiratory tract irritants. Acute bronchitis mainly occurs during winter and is followed by viral infection like cold or flu. A secondary bacterial infection may also accompany this disease. Chronic bronchitis develops only slowly. Cilia, the hairy outgrowths from the cells that line the respiratory system slowly become paralyzed and their movement is stopped due to the inhalation of the lung irritants. So, the cilia are no loner able to move the mucus and the airways become clogged.
Many causes have been suggested for bronchitis. Viruses like influenza A and B, commonly referred to as the flu virus is one of the culprits in leading to bronchitis. Then there are bacteria like the Mycoplasma pneumoniae that can cause bronchitis. Another cause of bronchitis is inhaling lung irritants like fumes, dusts, chemical solvents etc. Smoking is considered as one of the main culprits leading to bronchitis. One of the main symptoms of bronchitis is the ever presence of mucus producing cough. When a cough brings up large quantities of yellow, green or discolored mucus for more than three months of a year, then a case of bronchitis can be suspected. The main symptoms accompanying an upper respiratory tract infection may include: sore throat, chest congestion, soreness or burning sensation in the chest, fullness of the sinus, wheezing, breathlessness, slight fever, frequent cold or flu and overall malaise.
When chronic bronchitis proceeds breathing may become more difficult and you may feel tightness in your chest. Due to breathing difficulties less oxygen is inhaled into your body. This may cause your lips and body to turn blue and cause overall tiredness. In the advanced stages you will get chest pains and your feet and ankles may become swollen. Many tend to lose weight and have trouble sleeping. The damaged lungs may force the heart to work harder leading to its failure.
Bronchitis can be cured through medication but the best way is to prevent yourselves from getting infected with it once you have been cured of the disease. For that you will have to know why the disease happened to you and prevent ways of getting it in the future. If you are a chain smoker you must quit smoking as soon as possible. According to the American Lung Association about 85% of chronic bronchitis is caused by smoking. Smoking irritates the lungs and the bronchi and leads to further infection. Air pollution is also being suggested as another important cause for bronchitis. People living and working in polluted environment are at greater risk of getting bronchitis. Even if it’s not possible to quit your job or leave the area, you may still maintain good air condition inside your home by installing air filters. Drink plenty of fluids and stay away from coffee and alcohol as they tend to increase fluid loss from the body producing more cough. Stay away from dangerous chemicals and other bronchial irritants.