What Is Bronchitis?
Bronchitis is a respiratory disease in which the mucus membrane in the lungs’ bronchial passages becomes inflamed.
As the irritated membrane swells and grows thicker, it narrows or shuts off the tiny airways in the lungs, resulting in coughing spells that may be accompanied by phlegm and breathlessness.
The disease comes in two forms: acute (lasting from one to three weeks) and chronic (lasting at least 3 months of the year for two years in a row).
People with asthma may also have asthmatic bronchitis, inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes.
Acute bronchitis may be responsible for the hacking cough and phlegm production that sometime accompany an upper respiratory infection. In most cases, the infection is viral in origin, but sometimes it’s caused by bacteria.
If you are otherwise in good health, the mucus membrane should return to normal after you’ve recovered from the initial lung infection, which usually lasts for several days.
Chronic bronchitis is a serious long-term disorder that often requires regular medical treatment.
If you are a smoker and come down with acute bronchitis, it will be much harder for you to recover. Every cigarette damages the tiny hair-like structures in your lungs, called cilia, that are responsible for brushing out debris, irritants, and excess mucus.
If you continue smoking, the damage to these cilia prevent them from functioning properly, thus increasing your chances of developing chronic bronchitis. In some heavy smokers, the mucus membrane lining the airways stays inflamed and the cilia eventually stop functioning altogether. Clogged with mucus, the lungs are then vulnerable to viral and bacterial infections, which over time distort and permanently damage the lungs’ airways. This permanent condition is called COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Your doctor can perform a breathing test, called spirometry, to see if you have developed COPD. WebMD has many resources to help you to successfully quit smoking.
Chronic bronchitis is one of two main types of a COPD. The other main form of COPD is emphysema. Both forms of COPD make it difficult to breathe.
Acute bronchitis is very common. The disorder often can be treated effectively without professional medical assistance. However, if you have severe or persistent symptoms or high fever, or if you cough up blood, you should see your doctor right away.
Seek emergency medical help if you have trouble breathing or have chest pain. If you suffer from chronic bronchitis, you are at risk for developing heart problems, as well as more serious lung diseases and infections, so you should be monitored by a doctor.
What Causes Bronchitis?
Acute bronchitis is generally caused by lung infections, 90% of which are viral in origin. Repeated attacks of acute bronchitis, which weaken and irritate bronchial airways over time, can result in chronic bronchitis.
Industrial pollution is another culprit. Chronic bronchitis is found in higher-than-normal rates among coal miners, grain handlers, metal molders, and other people who are continually exposed to dust and fumes. But the chief cause is heavy, long-term cigarette smoking, which irritates the bronchial tubes and causes them to produce excess mucus. The symptoms of chronic bronchitis are also worsened by high concentrations of sulfur dioxide and other pollutants in the atmosphere.
Home remedies for bronchitis
Winter is fast approaching. This time of year, people are more prone to respiratory ailments like bronchitis, in which the lining of the bronchial tubes that carry air to and from the lungs become inflamed. Acute bronchitis is often the result of a cold or other respiratory infection. Acute bronchitis can be minor, but it can become severe and even life-threatening. Here’s what you can do to treat bronchitis at home.
It sounds simple, but drinking 1 glass of water every 2 hours can help thin mucus and open the bronchial tubes.
2. Home-made vapor rub
The cooling effects of a vapor rub can work wonders on a case of bronchitis. Make one at home from 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup coconut oil, 1/4 cup grated Bees wax (available at health foods stores), 20 drops peppermint essential oil, and 20 drops eucalyptus essential oil. To make the home remedy pour the olive oil, coconut oil, and Bees wax into a jar. Heat a sauce pan with 2 inches water over medium-low heat. Place the jar in the sauce pan. When the oils melt, stir to combine. Let the combination cool and add the essential oils. Pour into storage containers and allow the home remedy to set.
Simply lean over a bowl of steam treated with a few drops of eucalyptus or pine essential oil. This works because eucalyptus is an anti-bacterial that softens the mucus in obstructed airways, while pine oil is an expectorant that brings up and get rid of phlegm.
4. Cayenne pepper
Cayenne and other spicy foods thin the mucus in the lungs and promote a healthy cough, necessary to get all the mucus out of the bronchial tubes.
5. Oregano oil
Oregano oil is anti-bacterial and supports bronchial health.
6. Ginger, cinnamon, and clove
Ginger is well-known for its ability to fight the common cold. As an anti-inflammatory immune booster, it is also helpful against bronchitis.
Trust us on this one. Boil 3 cloves pealed and chopped garlic in 1 glass milk or water and drink before bed. Garlic is antiviral, as well as a natural antibiotic.
Thick, soothing honey not only feels good in the throat, it is also good for the throat. Adding 1 teaspoon honey to hot tea or hot lemon water in order to treat congestion and inflammation.