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Bronchitis is an obstruction of either of two main branches of the trachea, leading directly to the lungs. The obstruction is caused by a sever inflammation of the two branches named, Bronchus. Bronchitis was originally named and described by physician Charles Bedham in 1808.


Bronchitis is a spectrum disorder, meaning it can be acute and chronic or a one time occurrence. Chronic acute bronchitis is caused by excessive smoking and is linked to pneumoconiosis, alcohol consumption and colds. The Symptoms of Bronchitis are shortness of breath, a cough that produces mucus or sputum, fatigue and exhaustion, mild fever and mild chest pains – usually caused in part by the coughing.

Bronchitis is diagnosed by a physical exam that relies on a decreased intensity of breath sounds and a persistent dry or when cough. Lab tests for bronchitis include a chest x-ray, a pulmonary function test to check lung capacity, blood gas levels to detect oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood stream and a sputum (spit) culture to check for pathogens and bacteria.

Acute Bronchitis usually follows a cold or chest infection, either viral or bacterial.

Chronic bronchitis is due to environmental factors that irritate the bronchus or bronchial tubes. The earliest clinical symptom of bronchitis is increased mucus. Damage caused by the airways lead to inflammation of the lung tissues by neutrophils. A neutrophil cell is a type of granular white blood cell that is highly destructive of other cells. The neutrophils release chemicals that that increase mucus secretions.

How is Bronchitis Treated?

Doctors now recognize that most acute bronchitis is the result of a viral infection and antibiotics will not treat this type of bronchitis. Doctors prescribe rest, lots of liquids and aspirin or Tylenol for pain and fever. Increasing fluid intake is beneficial for patients with acute bronchitis – thinning out the mucus and replacing lost fluids. Sometimes a doctor may prescribe an inhalant or oral steroid to help reduce the swelling of the bronchial tubes and help with coughing.

Acute Bronchitis lasts around 10 to 11 days and may follow a cold or the flue. For some people, the cough may last as long as a few months as the bronchial tubes slowly heal. If the cough persists, a doctor may recommend a visit to an ENT to determine if asthma is present. If blood is present with the chronic cough, a TB test and a check for lung cancer are necessary.

Sever chronic bronchitis is harder to heal for patients with an additional illness, such as lung diseases or heart conditions – such as pulmonary hypertension or chronic respiratory failure.

Can Bronchitis be prevented?

The best way to prevent acute bronchitis is to wash hands frequently and thoroughly. It is recommended that hand washing last around 30 seconds in order to be thorough. Since acute bronchitis is usually caused by virus or bacteria avoid contact with a person who has a cold or persistent cough.

Chronic Bronchitis can be prevented by reducing risky behavior – such as cigarette smoking and environmentally hazardous gases or fumes. Smokers in the early stages of bronchitis can only improve the course of the disease by quitting.

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