What is bronchitis?
Bronchitis is most often caused by a viral infection; it is when inflammation occurs in the bronchi (the large and medium sized airways) in the lungs that causes coughing. When these tubes get infected, they swell. Mucus (thick fluid) forms inside them. This narrows the airways, making it harder for you to breathe.
There are two types of bronchitis; acute and chronic bronchitis.
When it's chronic, it is long-lasting and can reoccur. It's most of the time caused by constant irritation, such as smoking.
Acute on the other hand is short in time and most cases become better after several days. Although the cough that comes with it can last a few weeks. This happens because it takes a while for the bronchial tubes to heal. If it lasts a very long time, it might be a sign of another issue such as asthma or pneumonia.
Symptoms of acute bronchitis can include;
- Shortness of breath
- Tightness and chest congestion
- Coughing up mucus
- Sore throat
- Body aches
Acute bronchitis is one of the top 5 reasons why adults see their doctor; 5% of the adult population seeks medical advice for bronchitis each year. Viruses cause 85% to 95% of cases of acute bronchitis in healthy adults. The most common viruses associated with bronchitis are rhinovirus, adenovirus, influenza A and B, and parainfluenza virus.
Over 2 million (10%) Canadians aged 35 years and older were living with diagnosed COPD in 2012─2013. COPD (also known as chronic bronchitis) is a chronic disease that is characterised by shortness of breath.
Wheezing and bronchitis
Oftentimes bronchitis comes with wheezing. This is a high pitched or coarse whistling sound that's heard in the respiratory airway when one breathes. If there is a lot of inflammation, air flow is restricted. The air passages may also go into spasm, especially if you have asthma. This causes wheezing and difficulty breathing even in people who do not have asthma.
Bronchitis is usually caused by a virus and often follows a cold or flu. Antibiotics usually do not help acute bronchitis and they may be harmful. Experts recommend that you not use antibiotics to try to relieve symptoms of acute bronchitis if you have no other health problems.
8 Ways to relieve wheezing: Self-help measures
Most people can treat symptoms of acute bronchitis at home and don't need antibiotics or other prescription medicines.
Here are measures you can take to help you feel better and reduce wheezing;
- Don't smoke.
- Hard candies like the Santasapina from A.Vogel provide a fresh and soothing effect in your throat. It won't necessarily stop the coughing but it may make your throat feel better.
- Avoid irritants such as chemical vapors, irritant dust and smoke.
- Make your air more humid and then breathe it in. The moisture from a hot shower, an air humidifier or a sink filled with hot water can definitely help keep mucus in your airways moist so it can be coughed up and out more easily. You can also add a few drops of eucalyptus or lavender oil in an essential oil diffuser. Eucalyptus has been used for a long time in herbal therapies. Herbalists often recommend using fresh leaves in gargles to soothe sore throats and treat bronchitis and sinusitis. Eucalyptus ointments are also used on the nose and chest to relieve congestion. Eucalyptus oil helps loosen phlegm, so breathing in eucalyptus steam can help alleviate symptoms of bronchitis, coughs, and the flu.
- Drink plenty of fluids to make sure you stay hydrated. It helps loosen mucus too.
- The use of natural and safe herbal remedies can be key in soothing the airways and feeling better faster. The Echinaforce Hot drink is a nice combination of fresh organic echinacea and elderberry, providing antioxydants to reduce inflammation significantly. Echinaforce has been clinically proven in its preventive action as well as treating viral respiratory infections. The hot drink can be taken as a syrup, or diluted in hot water or even added to your favorite smoothie recipe.
- Bronchosan - This herbal remedy contains many medicinal herb extracts acknowledged by tradition as well as present-day science for their effects on the respiratory tract. Ivy and Thyme have antispasmodic and expectorant properties. The synergy of Bronchosan's components promotes not only the relief of cough and cold symptoms and the drainage of secretions, but also accelerates healing by supporting the immune system's natural functions
- Eating more fruits and veggies. A 2005 review of existing research found that vitamin C may have a protective effect on the respiratory system. However, the studies reviewed also suggest that eating foods high in vitamin C appear more effective than taking a vitamin C supplement. You can try adding some of the following foods to your diet to reap the potential benefits of vitamin C: spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, bell peppers, oranges and kiwi.