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Bronchitis: Types, Causes and Home Treatment

Bronchitis is the inflammation, swelling, or infection of the bronchial tubes that carry air to and from the lungs. These air passages branch off on either side of your windpipe (trachea) into smaller airways, known as bronchioles, through which air is passed to and expelled from the lungs.

The walls of the bronchial airways secrete mucus that serves the function of trapping the incoming dust and other irritants that could otherwise aggravate and disrupt your normal respiratory functioning.

Unlike the common cold or flu, the nagging cough induced by a case of bronchitis tends to stick around for longer than the expected couple of weeks if not attended to properly.

This condition can stem from an infection or the inhalation of irritants, which can irritate the bronchial lining and cause it to produce more mucus than usual. Coughing is your body’s way to rid the respiratory tract of this excessive mucus.

Moreover, the resultant swelling causes the air passages to become constricted, making it difficult to breathe.

What Causes Bronchitis?

Both viral and bacterial pathogens can be held culpable for a case of bronchitis infection, especially if it’s acute bronchitis. However, viruses that cause the common cold or flu are the most usual suspects.

You can contract this infection by inhaling the air containing tiny virus-containing airborne droplets that come out of the nose and mouth of an infected person when he/she coughs or sneezes in your vicinity.

You can also pick up the bug by coming in with contaminated surfaces and items at home and in public places, such as door handles and keyboards.

The usual mode of transmission is through the hands that touch a virus-ridden object and are subsequently placed near the nose or mouth, through which the virus makes its way into your system.

Signs and Symptoms of Bronchitis

Symptoms associated with bronchitis include:

The symptoms of acute bronchitis are usually more severe than those of its chronic counterpart and last for 3-10 days. However, the cough that starts off with some degree of mucus expulsion can progressively turn into a dry, hacking cough, which persists for several weeks.

As a result of the continual coughing, your chest and stomach muscles tend to become sore.

As for chronic bronchitis, you will have to bear with a stubborn cough accompanied by clear, yellow, white, or green phlegm. The condition tends to worsen two or more times every year, particularly during the colder months.

Other less commonly reported symptoms include:

Natural Treatment Options for Bronchitis

Here are some home remedies for bronchitis.

1. Add Ginger to Your Diet

Ginger, often used for treating the common cold, can also help with bronchitis. The anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties present in ginger help relieve irritated, inflamed, or swollen bronchial tubes.

A 2012 study published in Phytotherapy Research suggests that distinct ginger compounds could be used as anti-inflammatory drugs for managing respiratory infections.

2. Drink a Glass of Garlic Milk

Due to its antibiotic and antiviral properties, garlic is highly beneficial for the treatment of bronchitis, especially acute bronchitis.

A 2016 study reports that garlic effectively inhibited the growth of infectious bronchitis virus. The research suggests that garlic can be used as a natural remedy for bronchitis.

  1. Peel three garlic cloves and chop them.
  2. Put them in 1 glass of milk and boil.
  3. Drink this milk at night before going to bed.

3. Drink Turmeric Milk

The anti-inflammatory property of turmeric is useful for treating the cough associated with bronchitis.

Follow this remedy to expectorate the excess mucus and get speedy relief from bronchitis-related congestion.

  1. Add 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder to 1 glass of milk.
  2. Boil it.
  3. Drink this milk two or three times a day. For faster results, take the milk on an empty stomach.
Note: This remedy is not suitable for people who have gallbladder stones, hyperacidity, stomach ulcers, or obstructive jaundice.

4. Steam Inhalation with Eucalyptus Oil

Steam therapy is a very effective remedy for bronchitis. Using eucalyptus oil in steam therapy will soften the mucus in the obstructed airways, and its antibacterial properties will help in the healing process.

5. Gargle with Salt Water

Gargling with salt water several times a day is a great way to treat various symptoms of bronchitis. Simply add 1 teaspoon of salt to 1 glass of warm water and gargle with it.

Be sure to use the exact amount of salt, as too much salt can cause a burning sensation in the throat and too little will not be as effective. You can gargle with salt water as often as you need.

There are two benefits of this remedy. First, it will soothe the inflammation in the throat, and second, it will cut through some of the mucus that’s irritating the throat.

6. Trust the Healing Potential of Honey

Honey is a natural way to deal with a cough brought on by a case of bronchitis. A single dose of honey reduces mucus secretion and cough episodes, especially in children.

The antiviral and antibacterial properties present in honey help soothe the throat. Additionally, honey boosts your immune system.

7. Expel the Mucus with Onions

The expectorant effect of onions helps dissolve thick mucus, thereby providing relief from bronchitis.

Furthermore, onion juice prevents further mucus buildup.

Note: Consuming large quantities of onion can lead to stomach distress and gastrointestinal irritation that may result in nausea and diarrhea. It may also cause thirst, amnesia, and condensate sputum. Lemons can help diminish the onion-induced foul breath to a significant degree.

8. Relieve the Congestion with Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds have medicinal properties that may reduce allergic bronchial responses.

9. Drink Plenty of Water

When suffering from bronchitis, it is recommended to keep your body well hydrated and to maintain a productive cough by drinking water and clear liquids.

So, drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water daily. You can also drink fruit juices and vegetable juices. In the morning, you can have a glass of water mixed with the juice squeezed from half a lemon and a little honey.

Do not drink caffeine or alcohol, which can lead to loss of extra fluid, making the mucus tougher to dislodge.

If your symptoms get worse, in spite of trying these remedies, visit a doctor without delay.

Types of Bronchitis

Bronchitis can be described as being either:

Acute Bronchitis

Acute bronchitis is the most common variant of this condition. It is relatively short term, marked by a temporary inflammation of the airways and usually follows in the footsteps of some other upper respiratory infection.

Also called a chest cold, this condition has the characteristic symptoms of a cough and increased mucus production, which resolve in a matter of three weeks or less.

Acute bronchitis episodes are more prevalent during winter and among children under the age of five, although it is not exclusive to them.

Chronic Bronchitis

Chronic bronchitis is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) along the same lines as some other progressive lung conditions that cause permanent respiratory damage such as emphysema.

Unlike acute bronchitis, this condition is far more severe and long term and presents itself with a daily productive cough that lasts for three months, followed by recurrent episodes throughout the next two years.

In fact, the damage caused by this advanced stage of bronchitis to the bronchial tubes may never be completely undone, and the symptoms tend to recur frequently.

Chronic bronchitis can set in on account of prolonged exposure to environmental toxins, such as tobacco smoke, air pollution, chemical fumes, and dust, and it is more common among people over 40. Moreover, repeated bouts of acute bronchitis can cause bronchial distress to turn chronic.

Backention of Bronchitis

Risk Factors Regarding Bronchitis

People who are increasingly predisposed to developing this condition include:

Complications Related to Bronchitis

When to See a Doctor

At the outset, bronchitis can often be mistaken for a garden-variety viral infection such as the cold or the flu.

However, if your cough shows no sign of subsiding or the symptoms are more debilitating than a regular case of sniffles and cold, you’re probably in the throes of a bronchitis infection.

Managing bronchitis generally hinges on adequate self-care, which entails giving your body a break, through optimum rest, take plenty of fluids, and a course of anti-inflammatory medication.

However, if you experience the following warning signs, a visit to the doctor should be in order:

People suffering from bronchitis often try over-the-counter medications to manage the symptoms. There are also many simple, natural home remedies that can provide relief.

Resources:

  1. Healthdirect. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/bronchitis. Published December 2017.
  2. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/bronchitis.
  3. Townsend EA, Siviski ME, Xu C. Effects of Ginger and Its Constituents on Airway Smooth Muscle Relaxation and Calcium Regulation. American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3604064/. Published February 2013.
  4. Podlogar JA, Verspohl EJ. Anti-inflammatory effects of ginger and some of its components in human bronchial epithelial (BEAS-2B) cells. Phytotherapy Research. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21698672. Published March 2012.
  5. Mohajer T, Ghalyanchi A, Karimi V, Barin A, Sadri N. The effect of Allium sativum (Garlic) extract on infectious bronchitis virus in a specific pathogen-free embryonic egg. Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27516987. Published 2016.
  6. Krup V, L HP, A H. Pharmacological Activities of Turmeric (Curcuma longa Linn): A Review. Journal of Traditional Medicine & Clinical Naturopathy. https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/pharmacological-activities-of-turmeric-curcuma-longa-linn-a-review-2167-1206.1000133.php?aid=18775. Published September 12, 2013.
  7. Gupta S, Agarwal M, Saluja M. Evaluation of Efficacy of Curcumin as an Add-on Therapy in Patients of Bronchial Asthma. Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research: JCDR. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4190737/. Published August 20, 2014.
  8. Bronchitis | Community | Antibiotic Use | CDC. Centers for Disease Control and Backention. https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/community/for-patients/common-illnesses/bronchitis.html. Published April 7, 2017.
  9. Satomura K, Kitamura T, Kawamura T, et al. Backention of upper respiratory tract infections by gargling: a randomized trial. American journal of preventive medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16242593. Published November 2005.
  10. Goldman RD. Honey for treatment of cough in children. Canadian Family Physician. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4264806/. Published December 2014.
  11. Mandal MD, Mandal S. Honey: its medicinal property and antibacterial activity. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3609166/. Published April 2011.
  12. Kumar KPS, Bhowmik D, Tiwari P. Allium cepa: A traditional medicinal herb and its health benefits. Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research. http://www.jocpr.com/abstract/allium-cepa-a-traditional-medicinal-herb-and-its-health-benefits-44.html. Published January 30, 2010.
  13. Hsu D-Z, Liu C-T, Chu, Periasamy S. Sesame Oil Attenuates Ovalbumin-Induced Pulmonary Edema and Bronchial Neutrophilic Inflammation in Mice. BioMed Research International. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2013/905670/abs/. Published April 4, 2013.
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