Bronchitis--Causes Symptoms and Relief
The trachea bronchi bronchioles lungs
The trachea--or windpipe as it is commonly known--is the tube that extends from the larynx to the bronchi--the two main branches of the trachea resembling an inverted "Y"--and serving as the principal passage for conveying air to and from the lungs. The bronchi, in turn, divide into many smaller branches called the bronchioles--resembling the roots of a tree. Finally, the bronchioles divide off into a grape-like maze, the lungs.
Technically, bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes lining . Sometimes the bronchi get infected due, mostly, to incoming viruses and on occasions bacteria. Or foreign substances irritate the bronchi causing them to produce an excessive amount of mucus, which in turn causes the airways to be obstructed. All this is often part of what we call bronchitis. There are two kinds: acute and chronic.
It often improves within a few days and frequently develops from a cold or flu virus that if not dealt with soon and effectively. It can spread to the bronchi or the ear. Or it appears as an infection in the throat which travels down toward the lungs. The main strategy in case of acute bronchitis is to deal with it rapidly and directly so that it will not reach the lungs and in turn cause pneumonia.
Repeated bouts of acute bronchitis can result in chronic bronchitis. Among the main causes of this ongoing condition are smoking and allergies; both can be powerful irritants of the bronchi. In fact, over 90 percent of bronchitis sufferers are smokers. This tells us right away that smokers will do themselves a great favor by quitting the habit, not only for their sakes, but for those also around them, especially small children. If not cared for properly chronic bronchitis can lead to hypertension of the lungs, enlargement of the heart and eventually heart failure. Those unwanted disorders are due, mostly, to the lesser amounts of oxygen inhaled and carbon dioxide exhaled by those suffering from chronic bronchitis.
These are some of the common symptoms of bronchitis:
- cough--which can linger for weeks
- sore throat
- chest or back discomfort
- production of mucus (sputum)--clear or white or yellowish-gray or green--although not always
- shortness of breath
- chills and shaking
Relieve symptoms and help the breathing is the main concern. Relief includes:
drink lots of fluids
- room temperature water
- herbal teas
- but not milk
- take extra vitamin C with the fluids
- thyme leaf tea can act as a decongestant
- relax, rest all you can
- OTC medications, but do not suppress cough that brings up mucus
- if you smoke you need to stop to get well
- cayenne and lobelia can help if you have congestion
- stay in bed as long as the fever lingers
- do breathing exercises and breathe deeply
- sugarless hot drinks
- do not exert yourself
- do not expose yourself to cold air or go barefoot on cold floors
- avoid dairy products since they produce phlegm
- to reduce congestion take a hot footbath
- if the air is dry add moisture with a humidifier
As with all illnesses and conditions common sense is a valuable asset in relieving them. If not sure about the seriousness of the problem, consult your physician.