Have you heard of bronchitis? Or do you think it is another name for asthma? How common is it? In an estimate published by Lungs India, the percentage of people suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in the sample size of about 9000 people was as high 7.4% in 2021. The percentage of sufferers in urban dwellings was in double digits whereas those is rural setting showed a prevalence of about 5%. This fact can also corroborated when we discuss the causes of bronchitis. The other worrying fact is that these numbers are on a rise and hence will become more dangerous in times to come. So what is bronchitis? What causes it? What is the treatment for bronchitis? Let us try and answer all these questions.
What is bronchitis?
The airways carrying air to and fro from the lungs get inflamed. Because of this, they swell up making it difficult for the air to pass through to different organs and tissues. This is very similar to what a person suffers from in Asthma. Having said that, while the symptoms and concerns are similar, the causes for both are very different. If you would like to read more about Asthma, you can visit our blog on the same.
What are the differences between Bronchitis and Asthma?
Asthma is linked to cells that are related to inflammation, whereas bronchitis is linked to cells involved in fighting infection.
Typical asthma symptoms are:
- Shortness of breath
- Wheezing (whistling sound when you breathe)
- Tightness in the chest
In addition, if one suffers from bronchitis, one will have mucus, either clear, green or yellow. In cases of chronic bronchitis, one may suffer from frequent fever, chills and body aches.
The other major difference here is that the symptoms of asthma are dependent on an attack or trigger. The symptoms of bronchitis will continue for a few days to weeks depending on the severity of the ailment (until the infection clears up or even longer in case of chronic bronchitis).
What causes bronchitis? How is it different from Asthma?
Chronic bronchitis and asthma show some overlap here but this is where the biggest difference lies in asthma and acute bronchitis.
There is still no concrete reason or cause for asthma. It is assumed to be caused by various factors like genetics or allergies. The triggers from asthma can be many like smoke, dust mites, pests, pet hair or strong smells.
Acute bronchitis on the other hand is caused by virus or bacteria. The patient will show symptoms till the virus or bacteria is in the body. Once healed, the patient will not have any symptoms or reasons to worry about as far as bronchitis is concerned.
Chronic bronchitis on the other hand can get triggered by similar irritants like smoke and fumes, air pollution and dust and the primary cause for one being affected by chronic bronchitis is smoking.
Air pollution and dust being the major trigger explains the difference in the percentage of patients in urban vs rural centers. This also explains the increasing percentage. You can read more about air pollution in our blog.
How is bronchitis detected?
Usually the symptoms of acute bronchitis are very similar to that of common cold and flu. Hence the medical practitioner, if he / she suspects, bronchitis or any other ailment, might chose to go in for one of the following:
Chest X rays
A chest X ray can help with identifying a host of underlying conditions including pneumonia. This is all the more important in case the patient is or has been a smoker.
The mucus produced by the lungs is known as sputum. Basis tests on the sputum, the cause of cough can be determined and required medication can be prescribed to provide relief to the patient.
Pulmonary function test
The patient is expected to blow into a pipe connected to machine. This test measures the capacity of the lungs to hold air and the speed at which it can be moved out. This test can give insights into the ailment one if suffering from and hence the course of treatment.
Who is more likely to get affected by bronchitis?
Again here there is a huge overlap between asthma and bronchitis. Below are certain set of people who are more likely to suffer from bronchitis:
- People who working in industries where fumes and smoke are present - chemical industry, mining, textiles, etc.
- People with a weka immune system
- People above the age of 45
- People who are chain smokers or inhale a lot of tobacco smoke
What are the possible treatments for bronchitis?
Since acute bronchitis can be caused by virus or bacteria, the treatment for both is different. It is easier to cure the bronchitis caused by bacteria since prescription antibiotics can help with it. Unfortunately, in case of bronchitis caused by a virus, antibiotics do not work. The medical practitioner will only give some pain relieving or cough medicines to alleviate the symptoms.
Chronic bronchitis is very similar in treatment to asthma. Modern medicine do not have a cure for chronic bronchitis but most treatments are for the patient to lead a normal life. These include using inhalers, bronchodilators (medicines that help reduce inflammation and mucus generation), short acting medications and steroids.
How can one prevent bronchitis?
Here are a few steps that one can take to prevent bronchitis:
- Stop smoking
Smoking is the single biggest reason for causing respiratory ailments including bronchitis. Stopping to smoke will help lungs remain healthier and fight infections and ailments.
- Stay up to date on vaccinations
Vaccinations help the body improve the immune system. Hence, taking the necessary shots will help the body fight bronchitis.
- Wash hands regularly and use face masks
To avoid any type of a viral infection, it is best to keep washing hands regularly. Also, wearing face masks might help against pollution or dust, especially if the work environment forces one to be in such an atmosphere.
What does ayurveda say about bronchitis? Are there ayurvedic treatments for bronchitis?
Ayurveda refers to bronchitis as Tamaka Shwasa. This translates to inflammation in and obstructions off the organs of air (referring to the airways and lungs). Depending not the mucus and other symptoms, Ayurveda attributes bronchitis to either of the imbalance of either of the 3 doshas. Usually it caused by Kapha imbalance. This condition is known as Kaphaja Kasa i.e. cough caused by kapha imbalance. Ayurveda has prescribed many home foods that help alleviate the condition of bronchitis. Honey, Garlic, Tulsi to name a few.
At The Good Herbs, we believe that there is a cure for even chronic bronchitis. Our ayurvedic medicine for asthma and bronchitis, Good 4 Lungs, contains potent herbs that can help cure bronchitis with continuous consumption and can help one lead a normal life. So are you ready to breathe free?
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