Bronchitis is a disease of the lungs commonly found in smokers and those who live in polluted areas. There are short term and chronic cases where the patient has an ongoing cough, often developing phlegm. Patients who have serious chronic bronchitis have an increased risk of death, often living only up to four years after diagnosis. There are ways to prevent the disease, though; and treatments are available.
Smoking is the leading cause of bronchitis so it is highly advisable to quit. Quitting smoking can reverse the effects of chronic bronchitis and allow patients to lead a more healthy life. Drinking plenty of fluids will also help acute sufferers. Though acute bronchitis is not nearly as serious as chronic, it can cause complications if left untreated.
Early diagnosis and treatment is critical in successfully reducing the symptoms associated with bronchitis. Antibiotics are often prescribed to help eliminate infection. Also, inhalers are generally used to help temporary flair-ups such as coughing and wheezing. This can help the patient breathe more comfortably.
In more severe cases, oxygen therapy may be necessary. The patient may use an oxygen tank to help breathing and respiratory functions. In extreme cases, a lung transplant may be necessary to replace one or both diseased lungs. Because lung transplants require a donor that is matched closely to the patient, these are sometimes difficult to accomplish. There are also risks involved such as rejection of the new lung and reactions to medication.
A healthy diet and exercise program are also recommended for easing symptoms of bronchitis. Regular aerobic exercise is helpful in expanding lung capacity and assisting in breathing. Walking is a great low impact exercise for those suffering from bronchitis. In addition, breathing exercises can be helpful. Learning how to take slow, deep breaths will help strengthen the muscles and relax the patient.
For acute bronchitis it is recommended to stay away from dairy foods as this will increase the amount of sputum generated, complicating symptoms. Instead, use cayenne pepper, garlic and chicken stock as they are all mucus clearing foods. Aromatherapy using eucalyptus will help soothe irritated lungs and help regulate clearer breathing. Warm compresses or hot showers can also clear mucus and help steady breathing.
Bronchitis can be a minor affliction cured within a few days or a chronic condition that requires more radical treatment. Use of antibiotics and natural remedies are helpful for acute bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis may require additional steps such as inhalers, oxygen therapy and even surgery. Bronchitis is, however, preventable. The most important preventative is to not smoke and to stay away from second hand smoke.