Obstructive bronchitis

What is it?

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, 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
  • Fatigue
  • Expectoration
  • Low temperature
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing in asthma patients.

After treatment for bronchitis, some patients still have a dry cough that could last between 1 and 4 weeks.

Medical tests

Medical tests to diagnose include:

  • Chest X-ray in suspected pneumonia.
  • Pulse oximetry to measure the oxygen in the blood with a device that is placed on the finger.

What causes it?

Air pollution is one of the main causes, especially tobacco smoke, dust, and toxic gases. This irritates the mucus membranes that line the airways which could lead to simple chronic bronchitis. This type of bronchitis can be cured in a few weeks if the cause is removed. 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.

What is the treatment?

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, so it requires lifelong treatment. That is why it is so important to avoid potential or known triggers.

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).

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