is acute bronchitis?
Acute bronchitis is the sudden development of an
inflammation in the lower respiratory passages in the lungs, including the bronchi.
Acute bronchitis is usually caused by an infection
due to a virus. For example, the virus which causes the common cold can lead
to acute bronchitis if it spreads further down into the respiratory system.
People who are more at risk of developing acute
bronchitis include those who have long-standing lung problems such as chronic
bronchitis or emphysema. The reason for this is that the defence mechanisms
against infection in their lungs do not function as well as those of the normal,
healthy person. The most common cause of such lung problems is smoking. There
is some medical evidence to suggest that exposure to dust and irritant fumes
can trigger off acute bronchitis. However, this is rare.
are the symptoms?
In cases of acute bronchitis, the virus or bacteria
that attack the bronchi (respiratory passages) can cause some, or all, of the
- A cough, which is caused by irritation of the
- A marked increase in the production of phlegm
- Shortness of breath
- A distinct wheeze, which is caused by a combination
of swelling in the lining of the respiratory passages along with an increase
in the production of phlegm.
- There may be fatigue, fever and a general feeling
of being unwell.
- The symptoms of acute bronchitis are made considerably
worse by being exposed to cigarette smoke or air pollution, and during cold,
close or damp weather.
there any self-help remedies?
Acute bronchitis does not usually require antibiotic
treatment, as it is triggered by a viral infection. However, if there is no
chronic bronchitis present, and you suffer from a sudden outbreak of acute bronchitis,
try the following self-help remedies:
- Cough often to remove any phlegm which may be
present in the bronchi.
- Drink plenty of fluids, preferably water.
- Take paracetamol to relieve any fever. Remember
to take it regularly in the recommended doses.
- Dont smoke cigarettes.
- Avoid smoky or stuffy atmospheres and stay indoors
in a well-ventilated room during cold, close and damp weather.
I see a doctor?
If the symptoms of acute bronchitis last for more
than 10 days, or seem to be deteriorating, it is advisable to consult your local
GP. Other warning signs to watch out for, and which definitely warrant a visit
to the doctor, are:
- Any changes in the colour of the skin or lips
to a blueish or whitish colour.
- Difficulty in breathing, especially pain on
drawing a deep breath.
- Underlying asthma or an asthmatic tendency which
may be considerably worsened during acute bronchitis.
- Underlying chronic bronchitis or emphysema.
Acute bronchitis will usually clear up of its own
accord within a couple of weeks, provided there are no other complications present.
acute bronchitis be prevented?
The best approach to preventing lung diseases such
as pneumonia is not to smoke cigarettes. If you dont smoke, dont
start. If you already smoke, you should seriously think about stopping. Your
GP or pharmacist can advise you about smoking cessation programmes.
There are no vaccines available against the viruses
that are the most common cause bronchitis.
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