Bronchitis is an inflammation of
the lining of the bronchial tubes. These tubes, the bronchi connect the windpipe
with the lungs. When the bronchi are inflamed and/or infected, less air is able
to flow to and from the lungs and a heavy mucus or phlegm is coughed up. This is
Many people suffer a brief attack of acute bronchitis with cough and mucus
production when they have severe colds. Acute bronchitis is usually not
associated with fever.
Chronic bronchitis is defined by the presence of a mucus-producing cough most days of the month, three months of a year for two successive years without other underlying disease to explain the cough. It may precede or accompany pulmonary emphysema.
Chronic bronchitis doesn't strike suddenly. After a winter cold seems cured, an individual may continue to cough and produce large amounts of mucus for several weeks. Since people who get chronic bronchitis are often smokers, the cough is usually dismissed as only "smoker's cough."
As time goes on, colds become more damaging. Coughing and bringing up phlegm last longer after each cold.
Without realizing it, one begins to take this coughing and mucus production as a matter of course. Soon they are present all the time, before colds, during colds, after colds, all year round. Generally, the cough is worse in the morning and in damp, cold weather. An ounce or more of yellow mucus may be coughed up each day.
The treatment of chronic bronchitis is primarily aimed at reducing irritation in the bronchial tubes.The discovery of antibiotic drugs has been helpful in treating acute infection associated with chronic bronchitis. However most people with chronic bronchitis do not need to take antibiotics continually.
Bronchodilator drugs may be prescribed to help relax and open up air passages in the lungs, if there is a tendency for these to close up. These drugs may be inhaled as aerosol sprays or taken as pills.
To effectively control chronic bronchitis, it is necessary to eliminate sources of irritation and infection in the nose, throat, mouth, sinuses, and bronchial tubes. This means an individual must avoid polluted air and dusty working conditions and give up smoking. Your local American Lung Association can suggest methods to help you quit smoking.
If the person with chronic bronchitis is exposed to dust and fumes at work, the doctor may suggest changing the work environment. All persons with chronic bronchitis must develop and follow a plan for a healthy lifestyle. Improving one's general health also increases the body's resistance to infections.