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Bronchitis

Overview

An inflammation of the main air passages to the lungs (the bronchi).

The incidence is 4 out of 100 people.


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Causes

Bronchitis generally follows a viral respiratory infection and typically appears just as the symptoms of the initial infection arewaning. The viral infection, which may be caused by any number of respiratory viruses including the rhinoviruses which causethe common cold, produces bronchial inflammation which sets the stage for bronchitis and secondary bacterial infection.Early symptoms may include a tickle deep in the throat just above the sternal notch which progresses into an irritating dry cough.As the infection progresses the cough may become productive with thick yellow sputum (purulent sputum) which isoccasionally blood streaked. Associated symptoms may include fever, malaise, chest pain and shortness of breath.Infants generally develop other respiratory complications such as bronchiolitis or pneumonia while older children andadolescents develop typical adult symptoms of bronchitis.Risk factors include recent illnesses that have lowered resistance to infection, a preceding viral respiratory infection or chronicpulmonary problems.


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Signs & Symptoms

cough- may produce pus-like sputum or mucous-like sputum- may have episodes of coughing up blood (blood streaked sputum- lasting for less than 6 weeks- shortness of breath- may cause the individual to awaken at night (paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea)- wheezing- rales- rattle in chest- general ill feeling (malaise)- slight fever- throat, sore- chest pain, soreness, and constricted feeling in the chest- chills (uncommon)

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Prevention

Minimize exposure to cold, damp environments which, combined with air pollution, may make people more susceptible tobronchitis .


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Treatments
Antibiotic medications Modern Medicine

The goal of treatment is to relieve the symptoms with medications and supportive measures.Bronchodilators such as theophylline or Bronkosol may be prescribed to open constricted air passages. Antibiotics are are usedif the sputum becomes yellow, gray, or green; generally an indication of a secondary bacterial infection. Medications thatliquefy mucus secretions (mucolytics) may also be prescribed.Supportive measures include rest, increased humidity (usisng a cool mist humidifier) to soothe air passages, and increased fluidintake to maintain hydration and to thin respiratory secretions.

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