What is Bronchitis?

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What is Bronchitis?
Bronchitis is a medical condition characterized by inflammation of the bronchial tubes, which are the air passages to the lungs. Inflammation may be due to trauma, irritation, or some form of infection. Usually it is the lining of the tubes that get inflamed. And when this happen, the amount of air in this passageway will be reduced resulting to the formation of mucus or phlegm.

Bronchitis may be of two types. The first type is called acute bronchitis. This involves inflammation to the bronchial tubes during a short-term illness like flu or cold. It usually presents with a productive cough with sputum that is green in color. Patients with acute bronchitis also experience some pain or discomfort in the chest area, while others have fever or difficulty in breathing. This type of bronchitis will last for a few days up to a few weeks. The second type is chronic bronchitis and is usually a result of prolonged inflammation to the bronchi or bronchial tubes. Cough is also present and persistent for longer periods with some lasting to several months or even years.

Common causes of bronchitis are bacteria and viruses. People who get affected will have coughs, difficulty in breathing, fever, chest pain, runny nose, and wheezing. Diagnosis is aided with chest x-rays and or pulmonary function tests. Treatment is directed towards the symptoms of the disease. Usually antibiotics are given if the cause of the illness is of bacterial origin. Those with coughs are given cough suppressants or mucolytics. Those with shortness of breath may be given bronchodilators. And for symptoms that persist, steroids may be given.

Most commonly affected by this medical condition are smokers, those with weak immune systems, the elderly, infants, and those with GERD or gastric esophageal reflux disease. People who are constantly exposed to chemical irritants may also develop bronchitis.

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