Before a diagnosis, have you ever relayed the following symptoms to your doctor: a bothersome cough that’s lasted for about a week, sleep interruption because of said cough, discolored mucus that comes with your coughing fit, blood (hopefully not), a fever (39 degrees above) and chest pains? If so, you now probably know that you contracted a sickness called bronchitis.
What is bronchitis?
It is an infection of the bronchial tubes, the large pathways that bring air to and from your lungs. Imagine an empty medicine dropper or an air blower as your lungs. Then, fill either one with water or any liquid. When you press it, it’s not only air that comes out. It will also expel some of the fluid on the inside. This simple illustration shows what bronchitis is like.
With air cleaners and medicine droppers, you can expel all fluids by pressing and pressing until most of it is out. All that’s left to do after is let them dry. This is not the case with curing bronchitis. The coughing fit experienced is just the body’s defense mechanism to expel the foreign bacteria in the bronchial tubes. But in cases like these, it is not enough to simply let the body expel the infection on it’s own, as it will cause discomfort to the victim.
Depending on the type of bronchitis – acute or chronic (with chronic being the more severe of the two) – one may experience any of the following:
Acute bronchitis (for a few days or weeks):
a) Cough w/ phlegm (color green)
d) Muscle aches and pains
e) Chest aches
The symptoms of chronic bronchitis are similar to acute bronchitis, but are much, much worse. An online article from Medical News Today also adds that breathing difficulty is a symptom that characterizes this type of bronchitis. Instead of remaining only for a few days or weeks, chronic bronchitis lasts for at least 3 months to two years straight, according the medical staff from Mayo Clinic. They also noted that chronic bronchitis might disappear, only to reappear again.
If you have experienced a combination of any of these symptoms for a few weeks or months, then it’s time to visit a pulmonologist. This kind of doctor is equipped to deal with diseases of the lungs, like bronchitis.
First on the doctor’s agenda is to run tests to eliminate the possibility of and/or prove you do have an infection of the bronchial tubes. According to professionals from Medical News Today, here are methods doctors determine bronchitis:
- He/she will use a stethoscope to note if there is wheezing.
- If difficulty in breathing is detected, he/she will request for chest x-rays to see any inflammation of the bronchial tubes.
- Have a sputum culture done to see if there are any bacteria present in the specimen, and also determine what kind it is.
If it is proven that you have bronchitis, there are a number of medicines you can take depending on the severity of the infection. These include:
- Medicine for cough: This is to reduce the coughing fit, but not completely. One suffering from bronchitis still needs to cough in order to expel bacteria from the lungs.
- Antibiotics: Aside from medicine for cough, antibiotics are necessary to combat the bacteria found in the lungs. This is determined from the sputum culture. It is important to note that antibiotics are effective against bacteria, but not viruses.
- Mucolytics: These medicines thin out mucus, making them easier to cough up from the lungs.
- Anti-inflammatory medicine and steroids: These are the go-to remedies when symptoms become worse.
- Rehab: Due to the discomfort bronchitis brings, some of those who are afflicted may need some help re-learning how to properly breathe.
In addition to these, patients will be required to rest, drink lots of fluids, and inhale warm air so their breathing will return to normal.
So the next time you get any of the symptoms mentioned earlier, don’t hesitate to go to a pulmonologist immediately. Get your bronchitis treated before it worsens.