Bronchitis Prevention: Each organ of the human body is important and the respiratory tract is no different. The respiratory system is responsible for the exchange of gases and providing oxygen, the vital component for the survival of human beings. The system is composed of bronchi and bronchioles, the branches that carry gases to and from the lungs.
Certain conditions can cause irritation and inflammation of the bronchi resulting in bronchitis. Here we provide detailed information about bronchitis prevention and methods to control it.
Bronchitis refers to the inflammation of the bronchial tubes, the tubes responsible for moving air to and fro from the lungs. The bronchi are the main airways in your lungs, which branch off on either side of your windpipe (trachea).
They lead to smaller and smaller airways inside your lungs, known as bronchioles. The bronchial tubes get swollen and the inflammation produces thick mucus or phlegm. The color of the mucus varies from yellow to gray.
Types of Bronchitis:
Depending upon the onset of bronchitis, it can be classified as acute and chronic
There is a sudden onset of symptoms that fades away with time. It is a common form of bronchitis and lasts for a few weeks only. The condition is temporary and does not cause any permanent breathing issues.
The symptoms are persistent with recurrent symptoms. It requires immediate medical attention as there are persistent irritation and inflammation of the bronchial tract. It is also seen in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Signs and Symptoms of Bronchitis:
- Congestion of chest
- A cough with mucus
- Wheezing sound while breathing
- Shortness of breath
Acute bronchitis has additional symptoms such as low temperature (fever), body aches and pain, running nose and sore throat. The symptoms especially cough may usually take time to fade as the bronchial tubes need to heal.
If the cough is persistent with inflammation and irritated bronchioles then your doctor may advise for additional tests.
On the contrary, the symptoms of chronic bronchitis will be persistent for 3 months with recurrent attacks.
Causes of Bronchitis:
Viruses are the most common culprit for acute bronchitis. The microbes causing common cold and flu are responsible for bronchitis as well.
The body has to fight against microbes, which increases the production of mucus and the bronchioles swell up. The patients find it difficult to breathe due to the congestion of the bronchioles.
Chemicals, dust and air pollution are responsible for chronic bronchitis
Smoking and passive smoking for long durations
People who are at risk of developing bronchitis include smokers, people with compromised immunity (elderly and infants), exposure to irritants (fumes, harmful gases, and chemicals), gastric reflux, etc.
Bronchitis as such does not have any complications but in certain cases it can lead to pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Is Bronchitis Contagious?
It will be difficult to differentiate between bronchitis and flu, if the cough is persistent then it is likely that you are suffering from bronchitis. Bronchitis is either acute or chronic.
Chronic bronchitis cannot be contagious as it caused by smoking and exposure to harmful chemicals. The airways remain inflamed for long duration and require immediate medical attention else, the condition may worsen to COPD. Chronic bronchitis lasts for at least 3 months.
Acute bronchitis as it is caused by a virus or bacteria, it is contagious. The symptoms can last for 1 to 3 weeks. Better to take adequate measures to prevent the spread of infection, like while coughing and sneezing cover your mouth to prevent the spread of the infected droplets.
Bronchitis as such does not require any treatment and the symptoms will fade-off. Acute bronchitis that is caused by bacteria can be improved with antibiotics whereas bronchitis due to viral infections cannot be treated with antibiotics.
Your doctor may prescribe you cough medicines, bronchodilators, and anti-allergic to control the symptoms of bronchitis and ease breathing.
Home Remedies for Bronchitis:
Home remedies are one of the best and safest options for bronchitis prevention. Bronchitis is one such disease that has symptoms similar to cold.
Home ingredients that possess anti-inflammatory and healing properties can be an excellent remedy for bronchitis. Here are few home remedies for the treatment of bronchitis
It is a traditional medicine that has numerous health benefits. Bronchitis, as the name, suggests it is the inflammation of the bronchioles and Ginger possess anti-inflammatory property.
How to use:
Eat raw ginger as it is or added to the foods, use ginger tea, or chew the dried crystallized ginger. Ginger food supplements are also available in the market.
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It possesses antibacterial and antiviral properties. It inhibits the growth of the bronchitis virus and promotes the healing process. Garlic is a natural remedy for bronchitis.
How to use:
One or two cloves of garlic can be chewed in the morning, but few people do not like the taste of it. Garlic is also available in capsule form.
Turmeric is the best option for bronchitis prevention. This household ingredient has an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant property that enhances healing in bronchitis.
How to use:
Mix half spoon of turmeric powder with one teaspoon of honey and make a smooth paste. Consume the paste twice or thrice daily. A pinch of turmeric can also be added to the tea.
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Take a hot water bath or shower. The warmth breaks the mucus and helps in easy expulsion. Take a deep breath to allow hot air to reach your lungs.
How to use:
Take hot water in a bowl and cover your face with a towel. Inhale the steam as it helps in keeping mucus. The addition of Vicks and volatile oils eases congestion.
Be attentive while taking hot water bath as you can end-up hurting your airways with steam
Relaxing in a hot water bath helps in relaxing muscles and relieves aches and pains
5. Salt Water:
Salt water is the best remedy for bronchitis prevention. The chest congestion in bronchitis is due to the excess production of mucus due to inflammation. Saltwater is an excellent home remedy for relieving symptoms of bronchitis.
The Sore throat associated with bronchitis can be treated by gargling with saltwater.
How to use:
Add one teaspoon of salt n a glass of warm water and garble it as often as possible. It is preferable to gargle on empty stomach. Wash your mouth with plain water.
6. Hydration and Sleep:
In addition to medications and nutrients, hydration and sleep are equally important. Drink lots of water as it keeps you hydrated and expulsion of toxins from the body.
A hydrated body has better efficiency to fight infections. In people suffering from bronchitis (both chronic and acute), coughing causes excessive sleep disturbance. Try to take plenty of sleep as rest allows your body to repair and fight back.
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7. Healthy Lifestyle:
Eating fresh fruits and vegetables, doing regular exercise, and improving immunity are the main elements to maintain health and vitality.
It helps in preventing diseases and combat infections. Besides, immune stimulants help in easy recovery.
Do’s and Don’t:
- Vaccination against influenza can help in preventing acute bronchitis. Influenza is one of the common viruses responsible for causing flu and also bronchitis. Hence vaccination is an important tool to protect from bronchitis.
- Increase the frequency of washing hands, this reduces the risk of viral infection
- Use alcohol-based sanitizers to be used to wash your hands
- Wear a surgical mask to protect from harmful chemicals, gases, dust, and chemicals. Exposure to harmful elements can worsen the symptoms.
- Use a humidifier, as it keeps the airways moist and loosens the mucus.
- Include food supplements that improve immunity
- Include physical activity, and exercise at least 3 times per week
- Do not smoke, even passive smoking is not good in people with chronic bronchitis. Regular smoking puts you at risk of developing bronchitis.
- Do not contact people suffering from cold
- Do not stop the medications even if the symptoms seem to have subsided, complete the prescription as advised
- An inhaler is a must required, make sure you carry an inhaler with you always
Bronchitis is the inflammation of the bronchial tubes that causes swelling and the production of thick mucus. It can be chronic or acute bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis is due to the pollutants, smoking or harmful chemicals whereas acute bronchitis can be due to viral or bacterial infection.
Acute bronchitis can be contagious hence measures should be taken to prevent the spread of infection. Ginger, garlic, turmeric, steam, and a healthy lifestyle are quite helpful in bronchitis prevention and treating bronchitis.
Take supplements to improve immunity, wash your hands, wear a surgical mask, use alcohol-based sanitizers and quit smoking to have control over bronchitis.