Do this for a moment: place your hand over your chest, take a deep breath, and then let it out. Your respiratory system can often seem both intricate and delicate, very susceptible to change and problems. From the common cold, to conditions such as asthma or bronchitis, there are many things that can compromise the delicate balance of the respiratory system.
Many conditions that irritate the lungs will lead to coughing fits, especially if the lungs are inflamed and there is increased mucus production. Depending on the person, a cough generally is considered acute, and lasts for less than three weeks. However, sometimes if a cough is persistent and last more than eight weeks, this is called a chronic cough, commonly seen with a respiratory infection.
Most coughs are meant to clear up or significantly improve within a two-week period, but if you have a barking cough that hasn’t improved after a few weeks, then, talk to your primary care doctor, as something may be wrong. A common condition people get in their lower respiratory tract is chronic bronchitis.
What is Chronic Bronchitis?
Bronchitis is an infection in the lungs. Bronchitis can be acute (short-lived) and last for a couple weeks, or more commonly chronic bronchitis, where the infection lasts three months or longer, sometimes even years. Simply put, bronchitis is a condition in which the air passages of the lungs become inflamed and irritated due to an infection or irritation. This inflammation commonly affects the trachea, known as the windpipe, and the large and small bronchi. Bronchi are tubes, or tree-like air passages in the lungs.
Bronchitis also causes the thin mucus linings that protects the lungs to become inflamed. This inflammation causes the airway linings to start leaking mucus into the lungs, causing build up. Therefore, coughing is the body’s natural reflex to clear the lungs, to help us be able to breathe normally. If coughing does not clear the lungs properly, chronic bronchitis can lead to a common condition known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), where breathing is compromised due the airflow of the lungs being obstructed.
Symptoms of Chronic Bronchitis
Some of the symptoms associated with chronic bronchitis may include:
· Chest discomfort
· Coughing mucus
· Shortness of breath
· Nasal congestion
· Sore throat
Yes, bronchitis can be contagious, especially if it is chronic and caused by a viral illness or bacterial infection. Therefore, it is important to take necessary precautions to not get others sick.
Treatments for Chronic Bronchitis
In most cases, bronchitis goes away on its own after a couple of weeks, with the most severe symptoms lessening after the first few days. If the bronchitis is caused by bacteria then a doctor can prescribe antibiotics. Often times people with bronchitis have or develop asthma. If you have asthma or allergies and contract bronchitis as a result, the doctor will most likely prescribe an inhaler, which opens up the abnormal narrowing of the airways, helps shortness of breath, allowing us to breathe properly.
To learn more about chronic bronchitis and how to treat it, call Advanced Medical in Wellington and Royal Palm Beach, Florida at (561) 434-1935 to request an appointment, or you can request an appointment online.