The human lungs contain bronchial tubes or air passageways that are responsible for transporting air to and from the lungs. When the tubes get inflamed, they become swollen making breathing difficult. That’s why bronchitis is characterized by a wheezing cough because the lungs are struggling to get enough oxygen.
Bronchitis is classified into two: acute and chronic. Acute bronchitis is a common type affecting about five percent of the adult population in America every year. This type of infection causes inflammation and irritation for a few days and usually leaves no damage.
However, when you have recurring inflammation and lung irritation you could be suffering from chronic bronchitis.
The cause of bronchitis is different based on whether it’s acute or chronic. Acute bronchitis is a viral infection, although bacteria and industrial pollution can also cause inflammation.
Chronic bronchitis occurs when the symptoms last for more than three months and it is caused by smoking and also exposure to fumes and other irritants that can damage the airways.
Both acute and chronic bronchitis have similar symptoms with different lifespans. In acute bronchitis, you may experience coughs for three to four weeks. However, in chronic infection, the productive or wet cough may last for several months. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, fever, chills, and fatigue.
If you have lung inflammation and irritation for several weeks you should seek medical care for a proper diagnosis. Also visit our emergency room in Waco if you experience chest pain, coughing blood, high fever, and difficulty breathing.
Acute bronchitis is contagious and is transmitted through airborne droplets produced when one sneeze, coughs or speaks. You can also get bronchitis virus by shaking hands with an infected person. Since chronic bronchitis is caused by smoking, it’s rarely contagious.
All these conditions affect the lungs but have different characteristics. Both chronic bronchitis and emphysema are respiratory infections that fall under Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, and they also share similar symptoms such as wheezing and shortness of breath. Even though both are caused by smoking, they occur differently. For instance, emphysema is caused by damaged alveoli or air sacs, while chronic bronchitis is caused by swollen and inflamed airways.
Pneumonia, on the other hand, occurs when the alveoli swell and fill with pus making it hard to breathe. Because both affect air sacs, people with emphysema can develop pneumonia as a complication.
Bronchitis is a precedes cold and flu infections. Therefore, getting influenza or flu shot can help prevent the infection and keep bronchitis at bay.
Since 90% of the acute bronchitis cases are viral, the condition can’t be treated with antibiotics. Moreover, there is no known cure for chronic bronchitis, but you can manage it with pain relievers and home remedies.
Although using a cough suppressant can ease the discomfort, they may not work for acute bronchitis. Coughing is the body’s natural response to irritants such as mucus. Taking the cough suppressants will suppress the urge to cough meaning you can’t clear the mucus from the bronchi tubes. These medications, however, work for severe dry coughs that last for a maximum of two weeks.
You should also consider using a humidifier to keep the lungs moist, drink water, rest, and eat a balanced diet to boost your immune system. Additionally, get a flu shot to avoid influenza infection which is a precursor for bronchitis.
Don’t smoke as 90% of the chronic bronchitis is due to damage caused by cigarette smoke. Plus, if you have acute bronchitis, stay home to avoid infecting other people.
Keep in mind, even after inflammation clears, you will continue to cough, but it should become dry and milder as the days go by. You should also expect to be tired a lot longer. If the cough doesn’t improve, come to our ER in Waco.