Bronchitis is the swelling up/inflammation of the lining of bronchial tubes (air passages) that carry air to and from the lungs. The swelling causes the airways to narrow down, thus making breathing difficult. Moreover, cough and discolored, thick mucus add to the problem.
It happens when a virus, bacteria, or irritant particle triggers the immune response of the bronchial tube. Learn more about some of the common causes of Bronchitis.
Causes of Bronchitis
Normally, bronchitis is the result of virus infection (the same that is responsible for cold and flu). It primarily influences the nose, sinuses, and throat. Then, further leads to the airways, finally making its way to the lungs. Though, at times the cause can be a bacteria or exposure to substances (dust, tobacco smoke, fumes, and air pollution) that irritate the lungs.
Additionally, people with weak immunity or those that have a family history of lung disease are more at risk. Furthermore, the acid that rises due to heartburn is also one of the causes of bronchial inflammation.
Types of Bronchitis
- Acute Bronchitis – Acute Bronchitis is usually the after-effect of a cold/flu. It does not last more than a week or two and nor a serious matter of concern. The cough and mucus go away shortly as the body recovers.
- Chronic Bronchitis- This condition is long-termed and does not tend to leave easily or completely. Though the symptoms may appear similar, the major difference is cough which may last for 3 or more months and shows up off & on. Cigarette smoking is a major cause but intake of pollutants, dust as well as pungent/irritating fumes may add to the trouble. They are persistent and last longer.
Symptoms of Bronchitis
- Shortness of breath
- Congested chest with a feeling of uneasiness
- Production of mucus (sputum)
Apart from these symptoms that are common for both acute and chronic bronchitis, some show up only in case of acute bronchitis are listed below:
- Body ache/Headache
- Sore throat
- Runny/Stuffy nose
- Low fever & chills
Home Remedies for Bronchitis
Adding ginger to tea or cooking as well as preparing its herbal tea, effectively relieves the inflammation of airways due to its anti-inflammatory properties. One can also eat it raw or add it to meals. If you are not used to its consumption, prefer smaller intakes. Furthermore, avoid its consumption as a supplement or medication if you:
- are pregnant
- are diabetic patient
- suffering heart problems
- dealing with any form of blood disorder
Among the countless health benefits of garlic, it has effectively proven to control the growth of the bronchial virus. Though some people are uncomfortable with its taste and smell. Intake garlic in small amounts if suffering from bronchitis as it is the best natural remedy for bronchitis.
Well known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, turmeric is a boon for bronchitis patients. It is normally used in cooking and might also be taken by mixing it with milk or water. It has an additional benefit of boosting immunity.
Avoid its use as a medication if you deal with turmeric as a medication if you deal with stomach or gallbladder issues, have blood disorders, iron deficiency.
For pregnant ladies and the one’s nursing, do not consume turmeric in large amounts.
Gargling with salt water also helps break up the mucus and relieves from pain in the throat area. Sip a small amount of saltwater, gargle and spill out the quantity. Do not drink salt water. Repeat the activity for 3-4 times and later rinse the mouth with plain water.
5. Take Proper Rest
The fatigue that accompanies bronchitis should not be ignored. Rest as much as possible to allow repairing to the weak body. If nighttime coughs are disturbing, use an extra pillow to prop up your head.
6. Drink Plenty of Fluids
To prevent the accumulation of mucus, drink a lot of liquid. Apart from water, juices (at normal temperature), clear soups, and herbal teas help to thin the mucus. Also, they keep the throat moist relieving cough. Preferring hot beverages might ease fatigue, chills as well as a sore throat.
7. Inhale Steam
Draping your head with a towel & leaning over a pot containing hot water to inhale the steam gives comfort. Steam helps in breaking up mucus so that it can be expelled easily. Thus, it proves soothing to the person suffering from bronchitis. Essential oils may be added to the hot water for additional benefits.
8. Hot Shower
Hot showers are means of dual benefit as they allow the comfort of steam inhalation, as well as help in relaxing the tense muscles (due to coughing). One can also practice Hydrotherapy. Though if you feel ill or uncomfortable, this idea should be dropped out without a second thought.
9. Essential Oils
Certain essential oils such as Myrtol, Eucalyptus, Orange oil, Peppermint, Rosemary, Tea tree, Oregano, etc. ease symptoms of inflammation and breathing difficulties. They can be inhaled directly or used in a diffuser. Besides, adding a few drops to a pot of hot water & inhaling the steam also solves the purpose.
10. Use a Humidifier
Humidifier helps keep the room moist by adding moisture to the air. This enables to loosen the mucus, improve airflow as well as relieve wheezing.
Honey is well known for its extremely beneficial cough-relieving effect due to its antiviral as well as antibacterial properties. But it should not be given to children under 1 year of age.
12. Ginseng Extract
This popular home remedy is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Hence it might prove beneficial by reducing the inflammation in the bronchial tubes.
13. Lifestyle Changes
Mentioned here are slight changes in lifestyle that may effectively prevent illness:
- Quit smoking, cut out on tobacco and avoid exposure to second-hand smoke.
- Avoid polluted environments. If unavoidable, wear a mask.
- Go in for a healthy diet to boost your immunity.
- Include exercise in your routine.
- Wash hands frequently to limit exposure to bacteria & viruses thus preventing the spread of infection.
- Use a humidifier and clean it regularly.
- Discuss the need for vaccinations with a doctor (as it may reduce the risk of bronchitis)
13. Pursed-lip Breathing
It involves inhaling through the nose and exhaling slowly through the mouth. Thus, slowing down breathing and allowing more air into the lungs. This unique technique benefits people with bronchitis as well as those with COPD by-
- Keeping the airways open longer.
- Helping the lungs to eliminate stale/trapped air.
- Making oxygen & carbon-di-oxide exchange better.
- Avoid giving Honey to children of under 1 year of age.
- People with bleeding disorders should be careful against the use of garlic and ginger.
- Humidifiers should be cleaned regularly to clear out the bacteria and fungi. Else symptoms might get worse.
Seek immediate medical attention if-
- Symptoms of bronchitis last more than 3 weeks, are characterized by a fever or interrupt with sleep.
- Breathing difficulties become severe
- Coughing produces blood.