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Overview and Facts

People with bronchitis have inflamed bronchial tubes as a reaction to some irritant such as a virus or air pollutant. Excessive coughing results because of the mucus discharge out of these tubes from each lung. While bronchitis often clears up on its own after a couple weeks, one should not ignore bronchitis symptoms since pneumonia has similar conditions but may not resolve so easily. Acute bronchitis may arise from a virus or bacterium, but often goes away in two to three weeks for people with an average immune system. Those with compromised immune systems or who are sensitive to pollutants such as cigarette smoke may develop chronic bronchitis that lasts for a few months or even years.

Signs and Symptoms

Those who suffer from bronchitis may have a raspy or wheezing sound when they breathe, suffer a burning sensation in their chest, and fight a low fever at times. The cough may bring up phlegm after a few days and cause a person to feel tired. Many times the coughing symptoms of bronchitis last for a couple weeks after the irritant is gone. Although chronic bronchitis symptoms may only flare up for three months of the year, it jeopardizes a person’s immunity and can grow much worse if viruses or bacteria move into the inflamed tissue creating worse problems such as pneumonia. Bronchitis signs are often confused with other issues such a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonia, and whooping cough. Pneumonia distinguishes itself with more intense fevers and shortness of breath. Whooping cough may be mistaken for bronchitis in adults as it lasts for weeks and brings up mucus. Children with whooping cough will suffer a sudden spasm of coughing followed by a “whoop” or distinct whistling sound when they suck for air again.

Causes and Diagnosis

A person may contract bronchitis from a common cold or flu virus. The deeper congestion in the bronchial tubes may result from poor care of an upper respiratory infection or may arise due to low immunity in the patient. Bronchitis signs might also occur in response to second-hand smoke, inhaled vomit, or food and drink that went down the wrong tube. A doctor can usually diagnose this disease just by asking a patient his or her symptoms and doing a simple examination.

Tests and Treatments

A medical professional may order chest X-rays to rule out pneumonia or other major lung conditions. Often the remedy will include instructions along the lines of what one should have followed when he or she first came down with the sore throat or head cold that got out of control: plenty of fluids, rest, and a common cough medicine. While bronchitis treatments may call for cough drops or other over-the-counter products, these do less to stop the actual cough but go a long way to expel congestion and improve a person’s comfort level.
Many people treat bronchitis at home since antibiotics seldom help this condition. Natural cough drops can give a person relief from a sore throat while their body recovers. Fresh air might hurt, but good crisp air can help clear the lungs with a brisk daily walk. After first some efforts might seem to make things worse, but the goal is first to clear the bronchial tubes and then let them heal on their own without further irritation. Vitamin C a few times a day, beta carotene, and other natural immunity enhancers will help the body overcome this condition much more quickly. Garlic and cayenne pepper will help fight off infection when added heavily to one’s meals or taken as a supplement. One should avoid sugar and dairy products as these will feed infection. A warm castor oil compress on the chest for an hour a day will pull out contaminants. Breathing essential oils such as eucalyptus and camphor oils will help a person expel mucus as well without adding irritation to the sensitive lining of the airways. One could rub the essential oil with a carrier oil like coconut onto his or her chest and breathe deeply in a steamy shower. The essential oil will also work in a vaporizer or inhaled from a hot, wet washcloth. A proactive patient can expect to see rapid improvement from bronchitis.

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