Bronchitis is the inflammation of inner lining of bronchi which are the main tubes within the lungs and carry air to and out of lungs. It is a common respiratory disease and affects all age groups. The main symptom of bronchitis is persistent cough that is usually wet or contains a lot of mucus. This mucus is produced in reaction to the inflammation of air passage and cough is the defense mechanism of the body to clear the air passage.
Bronchitis is of two types ?Acute bronchitis and chronic bronchitis.
Acute bronchitis is acute or short term inflammation of the bronchi usually lasting for less than 3weeks. It is usually caused by viruses and hence most common in winter season. It is common in elderly, infants and young children who tend to have low immunity. Rarely acute bronchitis is caused by bacterial infection.
Symptoms of acute bronchitis are persistent cough, chest soreness, headache, fatigue, muscle aches and sore throat and sometimes shortness of breath. It is contagious. As soon as symptoms first appear in a person, it spreads through nose, mouth or airway when the infected droplets on sneezing and coughing go into the air and another person comes into contact with them. In case of acute bronchitis the cough may persist for several weeks after the infection is gone. But once the infection is gone bronchitis is no longer contagious.
Chronic bronchitis is one of several respiratory conditions categorized as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD. It is diagnosed when all the below criteria are met:
- long term cough?
- profuse mucus production?
- accompanied shortness of breath of varying degree?
- presence of above symptoms for 3 consecutive months in one year
- this has occurred for two consecutive years.
It is more likely to develop in people with a history of smoking. About 20-30 percent of chronic smokers may develop COPD. About 1 percent of COPD cases are due to genetic disorder leading to low levels of a protein called Alpha 1 antitrypsin. People with chronic bronchitis can also get acute bronchitis if exposed to the causative virus.
Some environmental irritants have been found to increase the chances of getting bronchitis. Such factors include air pollution or smog, strong chemicals, active and passive tobacco smoke, dust, smoke and large fires. Gastric reflux can irritate throat which may eventually lead to bronchitis. Stress is found trigger bronchitis by lowering the immunity of an individual and to worse the symptoms of chronic bronchitis. Acute and chronic stress affect the lungs and create a vicious circle as the sufferers are already stressed due to their condition and additional life stress leads to more flare ups creating more stress in turn.
As prevention is better than cure, there are some preventive measures one can observe to reduce the risk of developing both acute and chronic bronchitis such as quitting smoking/avoiding passive smoke, avoiding area with high levels of dust, fumes and air pollution, wearing a mask to cover both mouth and nose and washing hands regularly and keeping surfaces around clean. Regular cardiovascular exercise helps to maintain lung health by allowing muscles to become more efficient and use less oxygen. However, a medical professional must be referred to for guidance. Yoga and deep breathing relaxation exercises are also seen to have positive effect on lungs.
Once developed, acute bronchitis in most cases resolves on its own. One is advised to take rest at home with plenty of fluids, steam inhalation, cool mist humidifier. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) antibiotics that can work only against bacteria are not to be used in the treatment of acute bronchitis which is mainly viral infection. But if symptoms are not improving or the symptoms are too uncomfortable one should consult doctor for medications. The signs that suggest a visit to doctor are mainly cough that lasts for more than 3 weeks, constant fever lasting 3 days or more, blood in expectoration, worsening of previously existing lung or heart condition, rapid breath and or chest pains, becoming drowsy or confused. If bronchitis is recurring, repeated episodes of bronchitis can lead to pneumonia in some people. X ray chest, lung function test and blood test to look for signs of infection are common investigative procedures performed in bronchitis.
Homoeopathy provides best treatment for bronchitis as it not only helps to give relief in acute and troublesome symptoms of bronchitis but also minimizes the tendency to develop bronchitis in future.
Well selected medicine helps to boost the immunity of the person without any complications. The best homoeopathic medicine is the one most similar to the disease manifestation in each case. For this we consider the most characteristic symptoms in each case whether they belong to mind or body sphere. To find the best homoeopathic medicine for acute and chronic bronchitis the homoeopathic physician interrogates the patient for cause like any significant stresses in the life of the patient, any relation with environmental factors like cough from dust (Pothos foetidus), or dry cold air (Spongia toasta), rain (Natrum Sulphuricum), etc. The physician tries to find the factors like time of the day, any posture or weather, etc. that increase or ameliorate the discomfort of the symptoms. In some cases character of discharge or cough (e.g. cough like trumpet blown – Verbascum or minute gun – Corallium) and any other symptom found to be always associated with bronchitis symptoms help to find the best homoeopathic medicine. Homoeopathy can also help patient overcome genetic predisposition to bronchitis, for which the homoeopathic physician explores the past history and even intrauterine history in some cases along with the family history of the patient (Tuberculinum, Psorinum, Thyroidinum, etc.). Many high quality and thoroughly proven homoeopathic medicines are manufactured by Schwabe India to provide ready help to bronchitis patients without any side effects.