Bronchitis Disease, Symptoms, Causes And Treatment
What is Bronchitis?
Bronchitis disease or inflammation of the bronchi is the inflammation of the main airways to the lungs. Bronchitis can be short-lived (acute) or chronic, that is, it lasts for a long time and often reappears.
Bronchitis Disease Symptoms
Often, infectious bronchitis starts with the symptoms of a common cold: runny nose, sore throat, tiredness and chills. You can also feel back and muscle pain with a slight fever (37.5 to 38 ° C), especially if the infection is due to the flu. The cough (usually dry at the beginning) signals the onset of acute bronchitis. In viral bronchitis, small amounts of whitish mucus will be expectorated. This expectorated mucus changes its whitish color to green or yellow. The change of color does not mean the existence of bacterial infection. The change in color only means that cells related to inflammation have penetrated the airways and color the sputum.
In severe bronchitis, the fever may be slightly higher, from 38 to 39 ° C, and may last from 3 to 5 days, but higher fevers are rare unless the bronchitis is caused by the flu. Cough is the last remaining symptom and it often takes 2 or 3 weeks, or even more, to disappear. Viruses can cause damage to the epithelial cells lining the bronchi, and the body will need time to repair the injury.
In acute bronchitis, a hyperactive reaction of the respiratory tract is frequent, which transiently narrows in such a way that they impede or limit the entry or exit of the air flow in the lungs. Deterioration of air flow can be triggered by frequent exposure to factors such as inhalation of mild irritants (eg, perfume, strong odors or smoke from exhaust pipes) or cold air. If the deterioration of the air flow is severe, the person may feel choking. Wheezing is also common, especially after coughing.
Older people may have unusual symptoms of bronchitis, such as confusion or rapid breathing, instead of fever and cough.
Serious complications, such as acute respiratory failure or pneumonia, usually occur only in the elderly or in those with problems with immune defenses.
Bronchitis Disease Causes
Acute bronchitis is caused by an infection due to:
- Virus (most frequent)
Bronchitis usually occurs during the winter and is usually caused by a virus. Viral bronchitis can be caused by several common viruses, among which is the flu. Even when a viral infection has already disappeared, the irritation caused may persist for weeks.
Bronchitis can also be caused by bacteria. In some cases, bacterial bronchitis appears after a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract. Infection with Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Chlamydia pneumoniae, and Bordetella pertussis (which causes whooping cough) are among the bacteria that cause acute bronchitis. Bacterial causes of acute bronchitis are more likely when many people are affected (one outbreak).
If people suffering from chronic lung disorders such as COPD, bronchiectasis or cystic fibrosis suffer from inflammation of the trachea and bronchi, inflammation is considered an outbreak (exacerbation) of the underlying disease instead of acute bronchitis.
Bronchitis Disease Treatment
Adults can take aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid), paracetamol (acetaminophen) or ibuprofen to lower fever and relieve discomfort, but children should take only paracetamol or ibuprofen, not aspirin, since children who take aspirin are at higher risk of suffering from Reye’s syndrome. People suffering from acute bronchitis, especially those with fever, should drink plenty of fluids.
Antibiotics are not used to treat bronchitis, except for people whose infection is caused by bacteria (for example, during an outbreak). When an antibiotic is used, azithromycin or clarithromycin is most often administered. Antibiotics are not useful in people with viral bronchitis. Treating the flu with an antiviral drug, such as oseltamivir or zanamivir, can help speed up recovery from the flu (whether or not it is the cause of acute bronchitis) if it is administered within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms.
In the case of children, very mild symptoms of limited air flow can be alleviated by the use of cold mist humidifiers or vaporizers. In most children with severe involvement and in adults who have wheezing, bronchodilator inhalers, which favor bronchial dilatation, can be used to open the airways and reduce wheezing.
To suppress dry and irritating cough, especially when it prevents falling asleep, cough medicines can be used. However, the degree of effectiveness of these drugs is not clear. In addition, it is not usually recommended to suppress a cough with high sputum production. The expectorants help to fluidify the secretions, which facilitates expectoration, but it is not clear to what extent this measure is beneficial.