Bronchitis - Remedies for the Treatment of Bronchitis
You thought you were finally shaking that cold, but this morning your cough is worse than ever. You’re coughing up phlegm by the cupful, and it feels as if someone spent the night tap dancing on your chest. You’ve probably developed lchitis, an often painful infection in the major bronchiual tubes leading to the lungs.
Bronchitis has many causes, the two most on being bacterial infections and viruses that c n the immune system and leave the ‘ratory passages vulnerable to secondary ifection” explains Evan T. Bell, M.D., a specialist ectious diseases at Lenox Hill Hospital in York. Its hallmark symptom is a cough that )ductive of thick, yellowish or greenish spatum in large amounts,” he continues. But other ,toms can include a low-grade fever, chills, ache and pains. “You may also experience some rattling noises in the lungs and chest,” adds W Glezen, M.D., professor of microbiology and lDology and of pediatrics and chief emiologist at Baylor College of medicine in Houston, Texas.
“Unlike cold and flu viruses, which are easily ~d through respiratory excretions in the air, Inchitis tends to be particular to an individual is rarely contagious,” says Bell.
And while bronchitis sounds horrible, its bark is than its bite. According to Marcia Kielhofner, M.D., a clinical assistant professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, the two most worrisome symptoms tend to be the characteristic burning or and chest pain directly under the breastbone the sometimes blood-streaked sputum produced by the cough.
Unless you have a severe underlying disease or have asthma and allergies, you may have to let nchitis run its course. But there are some things u can do to move the process along.
Humidify your environment. Use a warm- or cool-mist humidifier to
add moisture to the air. “Whilethe cough is an irritative thing, it is the body’s natural response for getting rid of the infection, says Bell.For this reason, it is best to help it along rather than to suppress it with an over-the-counter cough remedy,” he advises. Any added humidity will help to bring the sputum up and out of the body. Standing in a steamy shower with the bathroom door closed or keeping a pan of boiling water on the stove can also help loosen and bring up phlegm.
Drink plenty of liquids. Taking in extra liquids helps to keep the sputum more fluid. It doesn’t really matter what type of liquid you take in, although warm liquids may feel better than cold ones. “Warm liquids, such as teas and soups, work very well to relieve the sore throat that accompanies the cough,” says Kielhofner.
Gargle with warm salt water. Gargling with salt water may provide a double dose of relief by soothing the inflammation in the throat and by cutting through some of the mucus that may be coating and irritating the sensitive throat membranes, according to Bell. It only takes one teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water; too much salt causes burning in the throat, and too little is ineffective. Gargle as often as needed for relief.
Rest, rest, rest. Since the bronchitis probably followed on the heels of a cold or the flu, you may find it hard to sit still any longer. But according to Kielhofner, you’ll need to take it easy a little longer. Walking around with bronchitis will only make you feel worse.
Take aspirin or ibuprofen to relieve the chest pain. “These over-the-counter remedies are extremely helpful for relieving the discomfort resulting from the chest pain,” says Kielhofner. Acetaminophen tends not to help much with the aches and pains.
Use a cough remedy as a last resort. “The best cough medicines for a productive cough contain guaifenesin to help bring up the sputum,” says Bell. “If you really want to suppress it, which we generally don’t recommend, look for something that contains dextromethorphan,” he advises. Combination products should generally be avoided. Decongestants, antihistamines, and alcohol (common ingredients in combination products) have no role in the treatment of coughs; they may even increase discomfort by causing side effects. Most of the candy type cough drops act as demulcents on the throat-their soothing properties are due largely to their sugar content.
Keep an eye out for complications. While letting nature take its course is generally the best treatment for bronchitis, complications can sometimes occur, and you’ll need to stay alert for signs that it’s time to see your doctor. The complications that are most worrisome include pneumonia, sinus infections, and ear infections, all of which need to be treated with prescription antibiotics. Signs that one or more of these complications may be present include a persistent high fever (which is not normally characteristic of bronchitis), shortness of breath, prolonged coughing spells, and severe chest pain.
In addition, Kielhofner offers the following warning: “While blood-streaked sputum is often normal symptom of bronchitis, it can also signal several more-serious problems and should be checked out just to be safe. Any distinct change i sputum color or consistency also warrants a trip to, the doctor.”
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Filed under: Lungs Problems