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What is Bronchitis?

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchial (pronounced “brawn-kee-ull”) tubes, or bronchi. Bronchial tubes are the air passages that extend from the windpipe into the lungs.

When a person has bronchitis, it is more difficult to breathe and there is often a heavy feeling in their chest. If you have bronchitis, stay away from individuals with compromized immune systems like HIV or AIDS.

What are the Symptoms of Bronchitis?

Some of the most common symptoms of bronchitis are: a cough, wheezing, fever, and soreness in the chest.

Is Bronchitis contagious?

Yes. Bronchitis is very contagious. It can be spread by direct or indirect contact.

What causes Bronchitis?

Bronchitis is usually caused by infection with a virus. However, bronchitis may also be caused by bacteria, smoking or the inhalation of chemical pollutants or dust. The most common viruses that cause bronchitis are influenza A and B, The most common bacteria that causes bronchitis is Mycoplasma pneumoniae.

When the cells of the bronchial-lining tissue are irritated beyond a certain point, the tiny hairs (cilia) within them, which normally trap and eliminate pollutants, stop functioning. Consequently, the air passages become clogged by debris and irritation increases. In response, a heavy secretion of mucus develops, which causes the characteristic cough of bronchitis.

Types of Bronchitis?

There are two main types of bronchitis: Acute and Chronic.

Acute bronchitis may follow or accompany the flu, or it may begin without having had an infection. Acute bronchitis usually lasts about 10 days. If you smoke or are around damaging fumes (such as those in certain kinds of factories), you are more likely to get acute bronchitis and to have it longer. This is because your bronchial tree is already damaged.

Chronic bronchitis is defined as excessive mucus secretion in the bronchi and a chronic or recurrent mucus-producing cough that lasts three or more months and recurs year after year. People who experience chronic bronchitis are more susceptible to bacterial infections of the airway and lungs and developing illnesses like pneumonia.

Can Bronchitis be Treated?

Yes. Acute bronchitis, can be treated with cough medicine, bed rest, drinking plenty of fluids and staying indoors in damp, cold weather.

If you smoke, you should cut down on the number of cigarettes you smoke, or stop smoking altogether. If you doctor suspects you have a bacterial infection, he may prescribe an antibiotic. If bronchitis is not treated, it can worsen and become pneumonia.

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