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Bronchitis. Symptoms and treatment in adults

10/18/2022 10:47:00 am
Bronchitis. Symptoms and treatment in adults

Bronchitis is a form of lower respiratory infection that affects the air tubes (bronchi) of the lungs. There are two types of the disease – chronic bronchitis and acute one.

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Difference in chronic and acute bronchitis

Chronic bronchitis is a long-term condition causing inflammation and irritation of the bronchial tubes – the airways through which air passes to and from the lungs. The disease can be defined by switch between remission period (the reduction or disappearance of the signs and symptoms of a disease) and relapse cycle. Chronic bronchitis can be a result of long-term complications of acute bronchitis or can be caused by air pollution, work environment or smoking. When a patient has a cough for three months in an year, and within a two-year checking-up, chronic bronchitis is diagnosed.

The relapse cycle is defined by the increase of inflammation that faces patient’s body response in particular - wet (productive) cough. Inflammation destroys the ciliated epithelium in the lung, disrupts the structure of the mucous membrane and reduces the cleansing and protective functions of the bronchi. With the disease progression, inflammation can affect lung tissue and the lining around the lung tissue. In severe disease, there is a narrowing of the bronchial tubes that can lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Acute bronchitis is defined with acute inflammation of the breathing tubes called the bronchi and, as the result, the bronchi become swollen, heavy breathing , and wet (productive) cough . Timely and proper treatment can help to save lung and surrounding tissues without its damage – the structure and organs function are not disturbed. Untreated acute bronchitis can be turned into the chronic disease.

Key types of bronchitis and its causes

  • Viral Bronchitis (most typical) ;
  • Bacterial bronchitis (usually it’s a complication of the viral disease mentioned above);
  • Allergic Bronchitis.

Beyond those there are few more types of bronchitis: mycotic bronchitis, chemical bronchitis and bronchitis caused by chlamydia or by mycoplasma.

Bronchitis can be :

  • obstructive; in this case the disease causes patient’s airways to narrow, too, making it especially hard to breathe;
  • chronic simple (non-obstructive) when patients’ bronchial patency is not broken .

Causes of Bronchitis

Bronchi: What are they? The bronchi are the two large tubes that carrying oxygen to the lungs when inhaling and removing waste gas when exhaling. You have two main bronchi in your right and left lungs that divide and branch off into smaller segments, like tree branches.

The second function of the bronchi (lung) is acting as an air-cleaning system and help filter out large particles ; preventing flower dust and etc. from getting into your body. For this function specialized epithelial cells that look like cilia, is responsible. Epithelial cells lining the respiratory tract have cilia that trap dust and other substances you breathe in and move them toward your nostrils so that they don’t go into your lungs.

Nevertheless the respiratory system cannot protect you in an ultimate way from inflammatory diseases. Some germs and viruses still able to infect the submucosa layer of the trachea – the virus attack its cells, causing Inflammation as an immune response to the damaged cells. That causes bronchitis.

The lumen of respiratory tube in bronchitis gets narrowed due to swollen if its walls. The production of secretion increases - the body seeks to produce as much of it as possible in order to expel foreign agents. One more protective function starts - this is coughing. But inflammation can increase sputum viscosity that prevents the expectoration. These signs decreasing breathing capabilities are called obstruction.

More often, bronchitis is caused by adeno- and rhinoviruses, a variety of bacteria - for example, influenza or parainfluenza, staphylococci, streptococci. Allergic bronchitis is also possible due to the introduction of toxic particles into the bronchi.

Smoking, chronic diseases, advanced age, etc. can cause bronchitis in adults.

Signs of bronchitis in adults

The key symptoms of bronchitis in an adult are coughing up phlegm.

The main signs of acute bronchitis are :

  • Throat pain and runny nose at the beginning phrase that indicate inflammation process;
  • Dry cough, paroxysmal cough is a cough that’s characterized by intermittent attacks of violent, uncontrollable coughing;
  • Possible chest pain when coughing;
  • Clear or yellowish-greenish phlegm - appears during a bacterial respiratory infection;
  • Chill, weakness, general malaise;
  • The body temperature is getting increased. If its increases over 38.5 о С for more than 4 days, there is a risk of complications in the form of pneumonia.

Most symptoms of acute bronchitis last for up to 2 weeks, but residual disease such as cough may persists for weeks or months after the infection has gone.

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Symptoms of chronic bronchitis

Chronic bronchitis is marked with switching between remission period and relapse cycle.

Remission period is often defined with clear phlegm.

Relapse cycle is defined with mucoviscosity, the color of phlegm is yellowish-greenish.

Shortness in breath is a representative symptom.

Body temperature is within a norm (stated as 36.5–37.5 °C (97.7–99.5 °F)) , sometimes is subfebrile (rises slightly and stays within 37-38°C).

Sickliness, weakness, tiredness, hidrosis – these signs occurs in relapse cycle of bronchitis. Be aware if common symptoms are in remission – it may lead the risk of the progression of COPD (in this case, blue, grayish, or purple due to insufficient oxygen in the bloodstream, facial swelling caused by respiratory failure).

Allergic Bronchitis

  • Inflammation of the bronchi caused by an allergen;
  • Shortness in breath ;
  • Сough or wheezing cough;
  • Clear phlegm;
  • Body temperature is within a norm;
  • Overall weakness and feeling like patient simply not feeling well;
  • Other allergic signs: runny nose, skin rashes, conjunctivitis.

Bronchitis: Treatment in adults

The goals of therapy: limination of infections, resolution of infection, assistance for sputum excretion, improvement of respiratory function.

Chronic bronchitis is treated by pulmonologists or therapists after a thorough diagnosis.

Treatment of bronchitis in adults: medication

  • Antibiotics – only if the disease is complicated with bacterial infection;
  • Сorticosteroids – if the disease is termed as acute one (occurs suddenly and lasts only a few days) ;
  • Bronchial spasmolytic – treat bronchial spasm and improve patients’ breathing ;
  • Mucolytic – helps in thinning and expectoration of mucus;
  • Anti-febrile – if the body temperature increases over 38.5 о С ;
  • Cough medicine – only for the treatment of prolonged attacks, which significantly reduce the quality of life of a patient. Keep in mind that coughing is a protective mechanism and helps to remove pathogens from the bronchi.


What is the best medicine for treatment of bronchitis in adults? There is no a clear-cut answer - the selection of the treatment method requires a comprehensive analysis. Drugs for the treatment of bronchitis in adults can be are taken only ny prescription of your doctor.



Physiotherapy - includes a variety of methods that are gentle and safe when used correctly. Let's consider them in more detail.

  • Electrophoresis: with calcium chloride - with a wet cough; with potassium iodide - when dry. Electrophoresis with heparin on the chest - shown to all patients.
  • Magnetotherapy (PEMF Therapy) - allows you to save the vital capacity of the lungs, reduces inflammation, increase blood circulation. The method treats the symptoms (cough, shortness of breath), promotes positive dynamics of the treatment, helps to manage the burden of medicines and improve physical activity of the patient;
  • Inhaled Mucolytic and Bronchodilators ( in physiotherapist's offices or at-home with the help of portable inhalers and nebulizers) - helps keep mucus thin and lessen patient's phlegm, opens the airways and promotes gree breathing;
  • Chest massage (Cough massage) - promotes sputum discharge;
  • Respiratory gymnastics - pa complex of therapeutic measures to strengthen the respiratory muscles; restoration of drainage functions of the bronchial tree and improvement of ventilation; eliminate (reduce) dyspnea and improve the overall condition of the patient.

Other home remedies for the treatment of bronchitis are control humidity in the patient's room, providing clean-room ionization, drink liquids (herbal raspberry leaf tea, Linden decoction, cranberry mors, bitter water) - it expels harmful substances and helps getting rid of mucus.

Some practitioners advice taking an infusion of licorice root (thinns phlegm), echinacea tincture (to increase immunity) and a tonic infusion of wild rose.

Health resort treatment, balneotherapy are well recommended for the treatment of chronic bronchitis.

Walking, therapeutic exercises, cold water treatment (off-cycle of the disease exacerbation) are also recommended in the bronchitis treatment.

Last but not least its recommended regularly do breathing exercises, keep remission with the help of portable magnetotherapy devices, and be sure to get rid of bad habits.

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