Bronchitis is an infection of the bronchi which are the tubes stretching from the throat to the lungs, and also the lining of the trachea. These areas become red and swollen, and as the body tries to fight the problem, more and more mucus, and swelling is produced. This leads to shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, and coughing. Bronchitis can be diagnosed as either chronic, or acute. Acute bronchitis comes on quickly, and gets better without complications, by two to three weeks. Acute bronchitis takes place in both grown-ups, and children.
What causes Acute Bronchitis?
Acute bronchitis is caused by viruses that contaminate the lining of the bronchi. In most cases, the exact viruses that cause the common cold, can cause the infection. For this reason, a person often gets bronchitis after they have had the cold, or flu. These viruses are present in the air from coughing. In rare occurrences, the condition is caused by fungus. Exposure to contaminated air, smoke and toxic chemicals, ingesting food, or vomit can result in acute bronchitis. Bronchitis is a communicable illness, and is spread by sneezing, and coughing. People regularly cough by covering their mouth leaving virus in their hands. You can catch acute bronchitis by touching a person’s hand that has the virus on it.
Symptoms of Acute Bronchitis
- The first few symptoms of acute bronchitis in children are similar to those experienced with a common cold, such as runny nose, sore throat, and mild fever.
- A dry cough is often developed a few days later, and then becomes moist in about two days. Coughing prolongs for several weeks because the bronchi takes a while to heal.
- Minor wheezing, and hoarseness might be experienced. Some of these symptoms are experienced by adults as well, and are regularly accompanied by thick mucus that appears greenish or yellowish.
- Body aches, chills, and pain during coughing are also popular.
- A person with acute bronchitis will feel tired, and will experience a sensation of tightness in the chest, which gets worse when breathing in.
If left untreated, the condition will vanish on its own in ten days, or up to a few weeks. Oral medication for body aches, fever, and cough are excellent for acute bronchitis as well. Some people think that antibiotics help, but they do not help cases of viral bronchitis. Drink plenty fluids to help get rid of the cough, or you can take cough suppressants for effective relief. A cough expectorant is recommended to get rid of the mucus. These are available as over the counter medications. Get adequate rest to allow the illness to recede. Breathe in warm air to warm the mucus making it easier to come out. Suck on hard candies, or cough drops to help soothe sore or dry throat.
To prevent acute bronchitis:
- Stop smoking.
- Wear protective gear when working with chemicals, or in dust.
- Avoid contact with people who have the common cold, or flu.
- Drink plenty of fluids such as water and fruit juices.