Bronchitis - NCDPC

How does bronchitis develop?

Normally, phlegm or mucus is watery. Mucus is expelled out of the lungs through the sweeping action of cilia, billions of microscopic “finger-like” projections on the lining cells of the air tubes. Cilia trap and eliminate pollutants and push mucus out of the lungs by moving it upward in one direction to the windpipe, the throat and mouth. The mucus is then swallowed and sterilized by the acid in the stomach, or coughed-out through the mouth.

When the bronchi is irritated by exposure to too much pollutants, viruses or bacteria, in the air, the bronchi swells and increases its secretion of mucus. Eventually, the mucus becomes thicker and stickier. Ciliary functions are impaired and the air passages become clogged by debris that cause even more irritation. Secondary bacterial infection sets in. An excessive amount of thick sticky mucus develops, which the person tries to expel. This causes the characteristic cough of bronchitis.

 

How is bronchitis treated?

  1. Antipyretics (e.g., Paracetamol) to lower fever.
  2. Antibiotics, if bacterial infection is present.
  3. Bronchodilators (e.g., salbutamol) to open up the bronchial passages in the lungs.
  4. Mucolytics, useful in chronic bronchitis to help thin out and expel thick and sticky mucus from the respiratory tract.
  5. Oxygen may be needed for very chronic cases.
  6. Bed rest and increased fluid intake.

How is bronchitis treated?

  • antipyretics to lower fever.
  • antibiotics, if bacterial infection is present.
  • Bronchodilators to open up the bronchial passages in the lungs.
  • mucolytics, useful in chronic bronchitis to help thin out and expel thick and sticky mucus from the respiratory tract.
  • oxygen may be needed for very chronic cases.
  • bed rest and increased fluid intake.

 

What are the different types of bronchitis?

  • Acute Bronchitis - occurs after a bout of flue or colds; aggravated by smoking; can lead to asthmatic bronchitis in some individuals.
  • Chronic Bronchitis - cough that produces thick mucus for at least three months; prolonged cough that is not caused by other conditons such as tuberculosis; shortness of breath and weezing may be present; main cause is heavy long-term cigarette smoking; which damages the bronchial tubes and causes them to produce excess mucus; frequent in 50% of patients with a history of smoking 40 to 60 packs per year; other major causes include occupational exposure to dust, gas, paints, or fumes.

 

What are the symptoms of chronic bronchitis?

  • cough lasting for 3 months or more with increased mucus production.
  • shortness of breath woven when at rest.
  • shortness of breath upon exertion in early stages.
  • shortness of breath at rest in later stages.

When should you consult your doctor?

The presence of cough lasting for more than 2 weeks necessitates consultation with a physician. Self-treatment is not recommended especially for heavy smokers suffering from chronic bronchitis, very young children, and the elderly.

Who are at risk of having bronchitis?

  • smokers.
  • non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke.
  • people living in heavily industrialized areas and exposed to air pollution.
  • workers exposed to metallic dust or fibers.