What is bronchial disease?
Bronchial disease, better known as bronchitis, is the inflammation of the bronchial tubes, the respiratory arteries that carry oxygen to the lungs. This disease causes cough with mucus, apart from generating breathing problems. Other symptoms such as wheezing, chest tightness or low fever may also occur. There are two types of bronchitis, acute and chronic. Patients suffering from bronchitis often produce cough with mucus. The mucus is produced by the inner lining of the bronchi and is characterized by a sticky form.
- Acute bronchitis: Lung irritants or infections can cause acute bronchitis. The most common cause of acute bronchitis is the same viruses that cause colds and flu. Acute bronchitis can also be transmitted through physical contact, through dirty hands, for example. The duration of acute bronchitis can be up to 10 days, but the cough may persist for weeks after the infection has disappeared.
- Chronic bronchitis: it is classified within COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). It generates a large amount of mucus as the bronchi are inflamed. This is why it becomes very difficult to breathe and causes a lot of coughing. Smoking is one of the most common causes, breathing air with high doses of pollution, smoke and dust for a long time can be other causes of chronic bronchitis.
This disease causes cough with mucus, apart from generating breathing problems.
Prognosis of the disease
In situations of acute bronchitis the disease usually ceases after 7-10 days as a rule, but as noted above some symptoms such as cough may last for 2-3 weeks. After these terms if the symptoms of the disease do not subside the specialist can assess the use of drugs or antibiotics for treatment, since bronchitis can lead to pneumonia. On the other hand, there is no known cure for chronic bronchitis, but prevention goes hand in hand with quitting smoking. In the most complicated cases, the patient may need to use oxygen for daily life, but the specialist will always have the last word.
Symptoms of bronchial disease
There are different types of symptoms depending on the type of bronchitis, acute or chronic.
- Acute bronchitis: The symptoms of cold or flu are sore throat, exhaustion or tiredness, fever, body aches, nasal congestion and runny nose, vomiting, diarrhea, cough, green or yellow mucus, wheezing or whistling noises, chest pressure or pain, and shortness of breath, especially during physical exercise.
- Chronic bronchitis: The main symptom of chronic bronchitis is a long-lasting cough that does not go away for several months. The mucus is accompanied by coughing, which is also associated with wheezing noises and trouble taking a breath.
Medical tests for bronchial disease
The physician’s most common medical test is the use of a stethoscope to listen to the patient’s lungs when breathing. However, during the first few days it is difficult to differentiate between bronchitis and a common cold. To make a more accurate diagnosis, other medical tests can be performed.
- Chest X-ray: this type of X-ray can determine which pathology the patient is suffering from, if he/she has pneumonia or another disease in which there is coughing.
- Sputum culture: this test can detect the presence of bacteria in the sputum produced by coughing. This medical test can detect cough or other illnesses that can be treated with antibiotics.
- Pulmonary function test: The patient blows into a device called a spirometer to measure the amount of air the lungs can hold and the rate at which they can get oxygen. This test can detect signs of emphysema or asthma.
Causes of bronchial disease
The causes vary depending on whether it is acute or chronic bronchitis.
- Acute bronchitis: one of the causes of acute bronchitis can be infections or lung irritants, i.e. the same viruses that cause colds and flu are some of the most frequent causes of this type of bronchitis. There are other substances that can cause lung irritation and lead to acute bronchitis. If the patient is exposed to high concentration levels of dust or gases, such as those resulting after an explosion or a large fire, acute bronchitis may also develop.
- Chronic bronchitis: The main cause of chronic bronchitis is tobacco use. The act of inhaling smoke irritates the lungs and causes large amounts of mucus. Other people who may suffer from chronic bronchitis are those who have breathed other substances such as chemical vapors, dust and other substances.
Can bronchial disease be prevented?
The best way to prevent bronchitis is not to smoke or to stop smoking. The more smoke inhaled, the sicker the lungs become. By quitting smoking, breathing improves and coughing is reduced, so the lungs begin to improve. In turn, the chances of becoming a victim of lung cancer are reduced.
On the other hand, you can avoid other substances that can damage the organs, products that use aerosols such as hairspray, deodorant spray or paint in the same format. Inhaling dust or chemical vapors should also be avoided. Another way to take care of the lungs is to use a mask over the mouth and nose when using varnish, paint or any other chemical substance containing strong vapors.
Treatments for bronchial disease
Specialists will focus on relieving the symptoms of bronchitis and facilitating breathing. If the patient suffers from acute bronchitis, the physician may advise the patient to rest, to drink plenty of fluids and to take aspirin or acetaminophen to relieve fever.
On the other hand, antibiotics are not prescribed for acute bronchitis, because they have no effect against viruses, which are the causes of acute bronchitis. However, if the specialist thinks that the patient has a bacterial infection, antibiotics may be prescribed.
With the use of a steam humidifier, the mucus becomes thinner and can relieve wheezing and shortness of breath. Some patients may need an inhalable medicine that will be administered through an inhaler that allows the medicine to reach the lungs.
What specialist treats you?
The specialist who treats bronchial disease is the pulmonologist who specializes in Pneumology. This specialty is in charge of studying and treating diseases of the lungs, bronchi and pleura. This specialist can treat bronchitis, respiratory failure, asthma, emphysema, or more serious diseases such as infectious or tumorous conditions.