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.
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.
Many causes have been suggested for bronchitis. Viruses like influenza A and B, bacteria like the Mycoplasma pneumoniae, lung irritants like fumes, dusts, chemical solvents, smoking – all lead to bronchitis. 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.
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 maintain a balanced diet. It is always essential to avoid foods that produce more mucus. Excess bananas, sugar, white flour, processed foods, milk and dairy products- all have mucus forming tendency. One should also avoid coffee, tea, soft drinks and alcohol as they tend to take away fluid from the body. Drinking water in sufficient quantity is a must for any bronchial patient. Onions and garlic contain antioxidants and are very good for preventing bronchitis. One should include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables in the diet. Eat oranges and lemon that are rich in Vitamin C. Naturopathy and other non-medicinal therapies can provide the right guidance in dealing with bronchitis.