What is obstructive bronchitis?
Obstructive bronchitis is a condition that affects the bronchi. It is defined as the swelling or inflammation of the main airways of the lungs, which can make breathing more difficult. This condition can develop for different reasons, the most common one being a viral infection.
Early detection is important as it may develop into a more serious condition. Acute bronchitis can be treated by following the pulmonologist’s advice. If the condition worsens, it can turn into chronic bronchitis and the patient may need lifelong treatment
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms can be varied, some of the most common include:
- Chest pain.
- Cough with clear or yellowy green phlegm.
- Low temperature.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Mild headaches.
- Aches in the body.
- Wheezing in asthma patients.
After treatment for bronchitis, some patients still have a dry cough that could last between 1 and 4 weeks.
What causes it?
Air pollution is one of the main causes, especially tobacco smoke, dust, and toxic gases. The airways become lined with thick mucus which damages the hairs that help to remove phlegm from your lungs. As a result, a cough is produced and can cause breathing difficulites. Other causes include being a passive smoker and inhaling harmful substances.
How can it be prevented?
Prevention techniques include avoiding risk factors such as tobacco smoke, dust, toxic gases, vapours, and environmental contamination among others. It is recommended to use a mask to protect you from exposure to substances that may aggravate the lungs.
How can I avoid viruses which cause obstructive bronchitis?
If you are worried about suffering from obstructive bronchitis you can take some steps to avoid becoming viruses which trigger bronchitis. We recommend that you:
- Try to maintain a distance from other people are suffering from the flu or similar respiratory illnesses.
- Avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes.
- Wash your hands regularly or use hand sanitiser.
- Take the flu jab annually.
Who is most at risk of developing obstructive bronchitis?
- People who suffer from asthma or chronic bronchitis can develop acute bronchitis, normally due to complications of the condition that they suffer from.
- People who smoke or regularly inhale smoke (such as living with a smoker).
- People who are exposed to irritants at work including grains, textiles and chemical fuels.
- People with weak immune systems, such as children, infants or older people can be more likely to develop bronchitis.
Is obstructive bronchitis contagious?
Bronchitis itself is not contagious, however, the bacteria and viruses which provoke bronchitis are contagious. These viruses are usually spread through coughing and sneezing. The flu is one virus which can trigger bronchitis. If you are suffering from bronchitis, you can pass on the flu to someone else but not inflammation in the airways. They will only experience flu like symptoms, they will not suffer from inflammation in the airways.
How can bronchitis be treated?
Treatment seeks to reduce symptoms and flare-ups while improving lung function, preventing complications, and increasing life expectancy. It is very important for smokers to stop smoking in order to alleviate symptoms. There are some medications that can help improve patients’ quality of life, especially if it is acute. If it is more serious, it doesn’t have a cure, therefore it requires lifelong treatment. That is why it is so important to avoid potential or known triggers.
Medical tests to diagnose obstructive bronchitis include:
- Chest X-ray for suspected pneumonia.
- Pulse oximetry to measure the oxygen in the blood with a device that is placed on the finger.
What specialist should I see?
A pulmonologist is the specialist who studies, diagnoses, treats, and prevents conditions of the respiratory tract. This includes the lungs, the pleura (the membranes that line the lungs and thoracic cavity), and the mediastinum (thoracic space between the pleural cavities, the spine, and the sternum).11-13-2012 05-05-2023