Bronchitis is an inflammation of the lining of your bronchial tubes.
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 its caused by bacteria.
If you are otherwise in good health, the mucus membrane should return to normal after youve 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.
2. Who Gets Bronchitis
No matter who they are, what their job, or where they live, people who smoke cigarettes are more likely to experience chronic bronchitis. The American Lung Association reports that the disease develops in nearly nine million people in the United States every year. Bronchitis affects people of all ages, but those who are 45 years or older get it more often, and women are more susceptible than men. More than 10 million people have bouts of acute bronchitis every year; most are children less than 5 years of age, who typically get it in winter and early spring. The viruses that can cause acute bronchitis are contagious. People can get a viral infection from someone who is infected if they come into contact with that persons respiratory fluids. The virus also can spread from person to person through the air by way of the droplets from a sneeze or cough. Generally, chronic bronchitis is not contagious.
The most common symptom of acute bronchitis is a cough that usually is dry and hacking at first. After a few days, the cough may bring up mucus. You may have a low fever and feel tired.
Most people get better in 2 to 3 weeks. But some people continue to have a cough for more than 4 weeks.
If your symptoms get worse, such as a high fever, shaking chills, chest or shoulder pain, or shortness of breath, you could have pneumonia. Pneumonia can be serious, so its important to see a doctor if you feel like youre getting sicker.
4. Types of bronchitis
There are three kinds of bronchitis. Acute bronchitis comes on quickly and is typically the result of a bad cold or flu. It generally lasts about 10 days. In severe cases, a bad cough can persist up to a month as the bronchi heal. The acute form also can be caused by an allergy or by inhaling irritating substances in the air, such as smoke from a fire. Chronic KRAH nik, persistent or recurring bronchitis is caused by continuing or repeated inflammation of the lungs over a period of time, at least 2 to 3 months, and it can persist or come and go over years. Excess mucus is produced, and the lining of the bronchi thickens. This leads to a bad cough and restricted airflow. People who smoke heavily and those with chronic lung disease are most likely to experience chronic bronchitis. The third type, asthmatic bronchitis, is seen in people with persistent asthma.
5. What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Bronchitis
Bronchitis symptoms often mimic those of a cold. A cough that brings up mucus is common. Symptoms of acute bronchitis may include wheezing, tiredness, chest pain, and difficulty breathing. If the cause is a viral or bacterial infection, the patient may have a fever. Chronic bronchitis usually is marked by a cough that lasts 3 months or longer, tightness in the chest, and trouble breathing. Bronchitis often is confused or lumped together with other conditions. The doctor usually will rule out other causes for coughing and breathing problems to make the diagnosis. Besides listening to a persons breathing, the doctor may order a chest X ray to check for pneumonia or a lung function test to check for asthma.
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