Bronchitis

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchial tube mucosa; it could be acute or chronic.

Viruses and bacteria seem to be the most responsible factors for acute bronchitis. They reach the bronchial tube with the inspired air or with the blood or they are also microorganisms present in the respiratory mucous.
If it looks like an isolated case, it is not a condition in itself serious. The situation changes when there are other debilitating diseases, especially if they affect children or elder people.
Also chronic bronchitis is caused by bacteria and viruses, but the main cause is the chronic irritation of bronchial tree (from mouth and nose to lungs) for routine inhalation of dust and irritant gases. For this reason, chronic bronchitis is often found in some categories of workers.
Other times it is caused by chronic inflammation of the upper airways, such as nasopharyngitis and rhinitis or disorders of the pulmonary circulation or ventilation. Even in this case there is congestion, inflammation and mucus formation at the level of the bronchial tube.

Symptoms


Acute bronchitis usually appears after cooling and starts with a small fever with cough accompanied by pain in the sternum, which increases coughing.
Sometimes there is also an inflammation of the trachea and the pain can be extended to the whole chest because of cough, which in turn is a defense mechanism of the organism to expel excess mucus formed due to inflammation. For this reason the main symptom of bronchitis is cough with phlegm, abundant expectoration, mild fever, headache, sore throat and hoarseness.
These symptoms may have frequent exacerbations during the winter, with temperature decrease, humidity and wind. Breathing difficulty becomes more evident during physical activity.
The doctor can easily identify with the stethoscope the presence of phlegm and easily formulate the diagnosis; also the x-ray could be useful to diagnosis.

Therapy


Treatment for acute bronchitis is the administration of antibiotics, expectorants, thinners, antipyretics and sedatives for coughs; also decongestants inhaled aerosol are useful.
Prevention of chronic bronchitis is extremely important in order to prevent its occurrence or to avoid its progress. For this reason cigarette smoke should be avoided, appropriate measures against smog (masks or transfers) and in the workplace should be taken. If such precaution are not taken, there is the risk to develop more serious problems such as emphysema and heart failure.
When there are also infections, adequate pharmacological therapy is needed, such as antibiotics. In order to thin the mucus and prevent obstruction it is important to drink fluids in an appropriate manner. In general, the cough reflex should be not suppressed, as it is the only way that the body has to remove mucus in excess blocking normal breathing.