About Bronchitis & Breathing Difficulties

Written by lisa quinlan
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About Bronchitis & Breathing Difficulties
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For millions of Americans, bronchitis and the related breathing problems that may be associated with it are daily realities that never go away. Finding out the best way of battling bronchitis depends on what kinds oft factors may be triggering the symptoms, the type of condition involved and previous history with the disease. A patient's ability to manage these situations can mean the difference between serious pain and suffering or good respiratory health.

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So What Is Bronchitis?

Bronchitis is an acute or chronic ongoing inflammation of the mucous membrane of the bronchial tubes. Bronchitis and breathing problems go hand in hand. Respiratory disorders--like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD--can leave people more vulnerable to bronchitis, which is often the middle step between a cold and pneumonia.. With asthmatic bronchitis, or chronic bronchitis, the inflammation can be long-lasting or permanent.

An X-ray showing the impact of bronchitis on the lungs.
An X-ray showing the impact of bronchitis on the lungs.

Every Little Breath Hurts!

For some asthmatics, bronchitis is like a low-level ongoing asthma attack. Sometimes, the result is an acute attack with bronchial spasms to accompany the inflammation. Bronchitis sneaks up on sufferers like the robber in a house--at first, everything feels fine, until they realise that every movement is making them tired and break into clammy pools of sweat, followed by nonstop coughing and wheezing. The lungs feel just as tight in asthmatic or chronic bronchitis, though not as badly as an acute asthma attack. Other symptoms include fever, weakness and fatigue, sore throat, and postnasal drip.

About Bronchitis & Breathing Difficulties
A visual illustration of acute bronchitis.

The Cause And Effect

With bronchitis, the most important question is, what triggers the attack? Are you in acute or chronic mode? Has a recent cold started to feel worse? Infectious bronchitis may be the culprit. Exposure to lung irritants, such as a smoking environment, can be a factor. For asthmatic bronchitis, getting a handle on allergens, or allergen triggers--such as the onset of fall or spring--can be helpful. Answering these questions will get a handle on the type of bronchitis involved, and what is needed to treat it.

When To Seek Help

Those with histories of respiratory problems should seek help at the first sign of trouble, such as when phlegm turns from white or clear to green, brown or yellow. Seek medical help if breathing plainly hurts, or if it is hard to breathe at all, especially if pre-existing health conditions are involved. Being under a doctor's care is imperative for asthma, COPD, congestive heart failure, and emphysema. A doctor can determine if antibiotics are needed, what inhalers to use, and other treatments to fit a person suffering from these conditions.

Professional medical help is essential for long-term treatment of bronchitis.
Professional medical help is essential for long-term treatment of bronchitis.

Making Yourself Feel Better

Never play with bronchitis--make sure to rest a lot. Avoid entering places with second-hand smoke, chemicals and other triggers that can hurt lungs. Otherwise, you may risk suffering bronchial spasms and wind up calling an ambulance to the hospital. Bronchitis can bring on asthma-like symptoms, even in regular sufferers without an established history. Never wait to treat bronchitis, especially if you have a pre-existing condition that affects your breathing. Ignoring this advice can bring on serious health problems, such as bronchial spasms, for example.

Treating Yourself At Home

A humidifier will help some patients, while causing breathing problems in others. Consult a doctor to determine if one is required. Have your home well-heated and air-conditioned, since temperature and weather changes can seriously affect asthmatic bronchitis. Get plenty of sleep, fluids and healthy foods; good chicken broth goes a long way. Avoid stress as much as possible. Unless it is due to an overall infection, bronchitis does not cause a digestive upset, but even there, watch your diet. An asthmatic will also want to monitor her breathing with a spirometer to test lung capacity.

Follow Up Your Treatment

In a severe asthmatic suffering from asthmatic bronchitis, the doctor may adjust whatever inhalers or bronchi-dilating drugs that he may be using. Numerous over-the-counter medicines are available to ease bronchitis; just be sure not to neglect getting medical help. Antibiotics also may be necessary, and can be helpful during bouts of asthmatic bronchitis that make sufferers more prone to bacterial infections. For those dealing with COPD and bronchial spasms, a doctor may put them on prednisone to aid breathing. Those with more serious breathing and heart problems may need oxygen therapy or admission to a hospital.

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