Have you ever experienced having a persistent cough that produces mucus? All of us may have experienced this at one point in our life, including me. Oftentimes, I just don’t put much attention to it because it normally goes away after several days. However, there are cases when this kind of coughing can linger for weeks. And when that happens, it can be an indication of a more serious health problem such as bronchitis.
Bronchitis is a condition that affects the bronchial tubes. In this case, the mucus membrane in the tubes which carry air to the lungs becomes inflamed. As the membrane swells and becomes thicker, the passage to the lungs becomes constricted. Eventually, the passage could shut-off, resulting to coughing accompanied by breathlessness and phlegm. It may also come with other symptoms such as mucus, wheezing sound, chest pain, shortness of breath and fever.
While most of the reported cases of bronchitis are viral in origin, bacteria may also be the culprit. The resulting bronchitis may either be acute which could last for up to three weeks, or chronic which could last for up to two years.
Acute bronchitis is normally caused by the same virus that causes colds and flu. The virus can spread through the air when a person with bronchitis coughs or when there is physical contact. Aside from the virus, there are also risk factors associated with acute bronchitis. They include exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke, fumes, dust, air pollution and vapors. If you are exposed to any of them, you have an increased risk of developing bronchitis. Although acute bronchitis is not a very serious condition, you still need to see your doctor if you are experiencing its symptoms so that he or she may rule out other serious conditions with the same symptoms.
You are lucky if you only have acute bronchitis because chronic bronchitis is a long-term condition that needs medical care. One of the main factors that cause this condition is smoking, although it can also be caused by viral or bacterial infection. One bad news to those who suffer this condition is that there is only a slight chance of complete recovery despite treatment.
Most people would rely on medical treatment to treat or alleviate their symptoms of bronchitis. But there are also bronchitis remedies that you can easily do at home. These include avoiding smoking and drinking plenty of water, which are effective for treating acute bronchitis. Your doctor may also prescribe an expectorant so you could cough up easily in case you have mucus. But for the case of chronic bronchitis, supplemental oxygen and oral steroids for reducing inflammation may be necessary. One important consideration to note is that regardless of what type of bronchitis you have, you must never take any over-the-counter cough medication unless your doctor prescribes it.
We should always be watchful of our health. A simple cough which we are neglecting may already be a sign of a more serious condition. If you have been coughing for several days now, it would be good to see your doctor immediately.