Bronchitis occurs when the air passages in your lungs become inflamed. Bronchitis can be acute or chronic. Acute bronchitis is usually due to a viral infection - such as a cold - that starts in your nose or sinuses and spreads to the airways. Acute bronchitis usually lasts a few days, although you may have a cough for weeks afterward.
Chronic bronchitis, on the other hand, occurs most often in people who smoke and, together with emphysema, is known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Chronic bronchitis is characterised by a productive (wet) cough that is persistent.
The mucus that's produced by the inflamed airways eventually causes scar tissue to form in the lungs, making breathing difficult.
Signs and Symptoms:
- Cough that produces yellow or green mucus
- Burning sensation in the chest
- Sore throat
- Chronic cough that produces mucus
- Shortness of breath
- Blue tinged lips
- Ankle, feet, and leg swelling
- Acute bronchitis is usually caused by the same viruses that cause colds. But exposure to cigarette smoke or pollution, a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and bacterial infections can also cause bronchitis.
- The main causes of chronic bronchitis are cigarette smoking and prolonged exposure to air pollution, dust, and environmental tobacco smoke.
- During their lifetimes, 40% of smokers develop chronic bronchitis. One study shows that snoring is also associated with chronic bronchitis.
Your doctor will listen to your chest and back, look at your throat, and may draw blood and take a culture of the sputum from your lungs. If your doctor is concerned about possible pneumonia or COPD, he or she may order a chest X-ray or a lung function test (which measures the amount of air in your lungs).
Bronchitis is often preceded by the common cold or flu. The treatment of these common illnesses can actually cause bronchitis. Most conventional treatments for a cold or flu focus on suppressing the symptoms like coughing. By keeping the body from expelling germs and mucus, the mucus can get trapped in the lungs where it becomes infected causing bronchitis.
At the first sign of disease that can lead to bronchitis, it is important to start combating it. The best way to combat any disease is to give your body the support it needs to fight it by itself. There are some basic vitamins and minerals you can take to support your body and some herbal remedies to help ease the symptoms while your body heals.
Taking vitamins A, C, and E as well as beta-carotene and zinc can give your body the support it needs. Vitamin A is important for lung health. Vitamin C is an antihistamine and supports the immune system. Vitamin E helps in the healing of tissues. Beta-carotene is helpful for lung health and tissue repair. Zinc also supports tissue repair.
We prefer NOT to take supplements. Provide your body with these nutrients through juices or smoothies. While your body is healing, there are some things you can do to help ease your symptoms, particularly the coughing. Peppermint tea is a good way to soothe your cough. A ginseng tea can help eliminate infection and can also soothe coughing fits. A drink of crushed ginger, honey, and a little lime can also help you soothe a cough. These drinks can help you and are usually pretty tasty.
Another thing you can do to help recover from a bout of bronchitis is to strengthen your lungs. Blowing up balloons is a simple way to strengthen your lungs after they have been infected. Doing yoga may also help you regulate your breathing and strengthen your lungs.
You can even make some dietary changes that help your body get rid of the germs and toxins that contributed to your illness. A juice fast of fresh vegetable and fruit juices can help you. Just remember, your symptoms, like the coughing, will persist while your body gets rid of the germs and toxins. The goal is to get them out of your body so you can get healthy again.
If you use these simple remedies, you can start feeling better without using the chemical concoctions most people use. This is good because the use of "traditional" medicines like cough suppressants can actually be the cause of illnesses like bronchitis and can keep you from getting better, so you definitely should stay away from them.
- Better Health through Natural Healing by Dr. Ross Trattler, N.D., D.O. and Dr. Adrian Jones N.D.
- The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Healing Remedies by C. Norman Shealy MD, PhD
- Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine by Michael Murray N.D. and Joseph Pizzorno N.D.