Bronchitis: What is it, symptoms, contagion and treatment
The structure that provides air circulation in the lungs is called bronchus. Bronchitis occurs when the bronchi become inflamed and filled with mucus. Mucusy cough may occur as a result of bronchitis, which can occur acutely or chronically. Bronchitis may occur in the body as a result of some viruses. Some illnesses, such as a respiratory infection or a cold, can also cause acute bronchitis. Acute bronchitis, also called chest flu, may improve spontaneously within a week to ten days. However, the cough that occurs as a result of acute bronchitis can continue for weeks. Smoking for a long time can cause irritation of the bronchial tubes, resulting in inflammation of the bronchi. Chronic bronchitis, a more serious condition, can occur as a result of factors such as long-term smoking. Chronic bronchitis is one of the conditions included in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Chronic bronchitis treatment may not improve on its own and may require medical intervention.
What are the Types of Bronchitis?
The type of bronchitis that occurs as a result of inflammation of the bronchi, in which the symptoms last for a short time and heal spontaneously, is called acute bronchitis. In some cases, bronchitis may recur frequently or may not improve for a long time. In this case, chronic bronchitis may occur. The types of bronchitis disease are as follows:
- Acute Bronchitis: Acute bronchitis, which usually occurs as a result of a viral infection, may heal on its own without the need for any treatment.
- Chronic Bronchitis: Chronic bronchitis, which causes a mucusy cough for at least three months, may not improve on its own and may require medical intervention.
Is Bronchitis a Contagious Disease?
Bronchitis occurs when the respiratory tract becomes swollen and filled with mucus. Bronchitis is not a contagious disease. However, viruses and bacteria that cause bronchitis can be contagious as a result of close contact (shaking hands, hugging, touching the same surfaces).
What are the symptoms of bronchitis?
A cough that lasts one to three weeks is one of the main symptoms of bronchitis. Mucus may appear as a result of coughing in bronchitis. However, in some cases, only a dry cough may occur as a result of bronchitis. Some of the symptoms that occur as a result of bronchitis are as follows:
- Wheezing, which occurs as a whistling or clicking sound when breathing,
- Formation of white or green mucus (sputum) with cough,
- Shortness of breath (dyspnea),
- Increase in body temperature and shivering,
- Feeling of discomfort in the chest,
- runny nose,
- Sore throat.
In addition to all these symptoms, cold symptoms such as mild headache or body aches may also occur as a result of acute bronchitis.
Why Does Bronchitis Occur?
Irritation in the airways may occur as a result of some conditions that negatively affect health. Bronchitis may occur as a result of irritation of the airways. Some of the causes of bronchitis are as follows:
- Viruses such as influenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), adenovirus, rhinovirus (common cold), and coronavirus
- Some bacteria, such as Bordetella pertussis, Mycoplasma pneumonia and Chlamydia pneumonia
- Situations such as long-term smoking, air pollution, exposure to dust or toxic gases
In addition to such conditions that cause bronchitis, some factors may pose a risk for bronchitis. Some of the risk factors that cause bronchitis are as follows:
- Exposure to Cigarette Smoke: Exposure to cigarette smoke can cause infection in the bronchi.
- Weak Immune System: Some illnesses, such as a cold or flu, can cause a weakened immune system.
- Exposure to Substances That Cause Airway Irritation: Some substances used in the production of grain or textile products can cause irritation in the lungs.
- Gastric Reflux: Prolonged stomach upsets can cause throat irritation.
Eliminating such factors that can cause irritation in the airways can help prevent bronchitis.
Can Bronchitis Be Prevented?
Some methods that can be applied in daily life can help prevent bronchitis. Some of the precautions that can be taken to prevent bronchitis are as follows:
- Avoiding Cigarette Smoke: Exposure to cigarette smoke is among the factors that increase the risk of chronic bronchitis. Avoiding smoking environments can help prevent bronchitis.
- To be vaccinated: Some viruses can cause bronchitis. Getting an annual flu vaccine can help prevent disease.
- Paying Attention to Hygiene Rules: Washing hands frequently and making a habit of using alcohol-based hand sanitizers can help reduce the risk of transmitting viral infections. Paying attention to such hygiene rules can help prevent bronchitis.
It is very important to pay attention to such methods in preventing bronchitis.
How Is Bronchitis Diagnosed?
In the first few days of illness, it may be difficult to distinguish the signs and symptoms of bronchitis from those of the common cold. There is no specific test used to diagnose bronchitis. A physical examination by a doctor can help diagnose bronchitis. However, some tests may contribute to diagnosing the disease. Some of these tests are as follows:
- Chest X-ray: An X-ray can help determine if there is another condition that may be causing the cough. X-ray results examined by the doctor can help diagnose bronchitis.
- Sputum Tests: The mucus formed as a result of cough is called sputum. Sputum testing can contribute to diagnosing bronchitis.
- Pulmonary Function Test: Also known as a pulmonary function test, this test can help measure the working capacity of the lungs. Bronchitis can be diagnosed as a result of a respiratory function test.
Physical examination and tests can help diagnose bronchitis.
How to Treat Bronchitis?
Bronchitis can occur acutely or chronically. In the acute type, spontaneous recovery may occur within a few weeks without the need for any treatment. However, in some cases, symptoms resulting from bronchitis may not improve for a long time. In this case, medical methods may need to be applied to treat bronchitis. Some of the methods used to treat bronchitis are as follows:
Some medications may be prescribed by the doctor for bronchitis. Some of the drugs used in treatment are as follows:
- Antiviral Drugs: In the treatment of bronchitis caused by the virus, the doctor may prescribe antiviral drugs.
- Bronchodilators: Difficulty in breathing may occur with the disease. In such cases, using a medication that helps open the airways may be effective.
- Anti-inflammatory Drugs: Infection may occur in the body as a result of bronchitis. Anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed by the doctor to reduce infection in the body.
- Cough Suppressants: A frequently recurring cough may occur as a result of bronchitis. Cough suppressants can help suppress the cough that occurs.
- Antibiotics: Antibiotic medications may be prescribed by the doctor for bronchitis caused by bacteria. Antibiotics may contribute to treatment.
Using such medications can help treat the disease.
Practicing breathing exercises as a result of bronchitis can help relieve symptoms such as shortness of breath that occur as a result of the disease. Respiratory therapy, which provides an effective treatment for long-term diseases such as COPD, cystic fibrosis, and respiratory infections, should be accompanied by experts.
Diseases are among the factors that negatively affect the quality of life. It is important to go for regular hospital check-ups to prevent the emergence of diseases.
Bronchitis is among the preventable diseases. If you want to contribute to preventing respiratory diseases, do not forget to go for routine hospital check-ups.