Every year, five percent of American adults seek treatment for one of the most common respiratory diseases- Bronchitis. Many recover with home care, some have to visit the emergency care clinic. In this article, we will see all that this disease entails and signs that you should visit the ER near you for treatment.
Bronchitis is a respiratory infection characterized by swelling and inflammation in the bronchi, the airways that lead to the lungs. When acute, the infection clears after treatment. A chronic infection never clears up. Periods of relief only alternate with periods of aggravation in chronic infections. However, symptoms are quite similar in both cases. A persistent cough is typical of bronchitis, and this may come with mucus or phlegm. Breathing is difficult and they are often breathless. When they do breathe, there are associated wheezing sounds. It is also associated with a low fever and chills, sore throat, body aches, and chest tightness. Anytime you have a persistent cough, try to visit the emergency room near you. Many respiratory conditions come with a persistent cough. These include asthma and pneumonia.
Bronchitis happens as a result of a viral or bacterial infection. Irritant particles can also trigger the inflammation seen in bronchitis. Smoking is a massive risk factor for bronchitis. We will discuss the causes under the acute and chronic classification.
In acute bronchitis, a virus, bacteria, or irritant particle is responsible. Irritant particles include dust, fumes, vapors, and tobacco smoke. People who smoke or inhale secondhand smoke and those who have asthma are at a higher risk. Symptoms will go away after some time, probably days or weeks.
Chronic bronchitis is a result of repeated assaults on the airways. It has an insidious onset. Smoking is the biggest single contributor to chronic bronchitis. Other causes include genetics, long-term exposure to irritant particles, repeated episodes of acute bronchitis, and a history of Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease(GERD). A person is said to have chronic bronchitis when they have a daily, productive cough for at least 3 months in a year, 2 or more years in a row.
When chronic bronchitis occurs with another respiratory condition known as emphysema, it is diagnosed as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
Many cases of bronchitis go away with home care. However, when you notice some signs, you must visit an emergency room in Austin. Extreme changes in body temperature are one of those signs. If your temperature falls less than 95°F or goes higher than 104°F, visit an ER near you. If your heart rate suddenly shoots up and your heart starts to beat faster, visit an emergency care clinic. Sometimes, breathlessness worsens to a point where the lips and nail beds start to turn blue. At other times, one gets tired of breathing. Both situations should make you visit an emergency room near you. If a person starts to feel dizzy or looks confused, they should be rushed to the hospital.
Your doctor will advise you to take time to rest, drink fluids and take prescribed medication. This will do for acute bronchitis in most cases. In chronic bronchitis, symptoms can resolve but may resurge later. Cough medication is useful in removing mucus from the bronchi. Honey is also good for treating cough. Your doctor can also prescribe bronchodilators, mucolytics, and anti-inflammatories. All these acts clear the airway of mucus and improve breathing. Some people need oxygen to recover because breathing is very poor.
Your doctor may also prescribe antibiotics. This is after laboratory results have shown that it is a bacterial infection. Bronchitis can lead to pneumonia if not well treated. In this situation, the infection has spread further into the lungs. People with pre-existing medical conditions, older adults, and smokers are more likely to develop pneumonia.
To prevent bronchitis, avoiding smoking is very important. Avoid irritant particles like smoke, dust, fumes, and vapors. Regular handwashing is also important. Whenever cough persists for more than three weeks, see a doctor.