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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. If a patient has a cough which lasts for three months in a year, and this symptom is noticed for 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, increased bronchial secretions , heavy breathing , and wet (productive) cough . Timely and proper treatment can help to save lung and surrounding tissues without its damage – that means that 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 is it ? 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.

The secretions provide immunoglobulin for acting against viruses and germs, and consist of immunoglobulin in 10 times more , than the blood does.

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 of the damaged cells. That is how bronchitis starts...

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

Often, bronchitis is caused by adeno- and rhinoviruses, a variety of bacteria - for example, influenza or parainfluenza, staphylococci, streptococci. Allergic bronchitis can be caused by 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 initial phrase that indicate inflammation process;
  • Dry, paroxysmal cough - is a cough which marked 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 it keeps increased over 38.5 о С for more than 4 days, there is a risk of complications rise 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 is simply not feeling well;
  • Other allergic signs: runny nose, skin rashes, conjunctivitis.
  • Allergic Bronchitis can turn to be a chronic one, and sometimes status asthmaticus.

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 taken only by prescription of your doctor.



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

  • Electrophoresis: with calcium chloride – for the healing of wet cough; with potassium iodide – for the cure of dry cough. Electrophoresis with heparin on the chest – is recommended for the treatment of bronchitis signs in all groups of the patients;
  • Magnetotherapy (PEMF Therapy) - allows you to save the vital capacity of the lungs, reduces the activity of inflammation, improves blood circulation and bronchial conduction. The method reduces the intensity of clinical symptoms (cough, shortness of breath), accelerates the positive dynamics of treatment, reduces the drug load on the body and increases exercise tolerance;
  • Inhalations of mucolytics and bronchodilators (either in the physiotherapy room or with the help of portable inhalers and nebulizers) - thin and help to remove mucus, free breathing;
  • Drainage Massage (Cough massage) - improves sputum discharge;
  • Respiratory gymnastics - a 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.

What else you can do to treat bronchitis in a complete way? It is necessary to maintain sufficient humidity in the room, to carry out its ionization. It is recommended to consume enough liquid (tea with raspberries, decoctions of chamomile and linden, cranberry juice, alkaline mineral waters) - it expels harmful substances and improves the removal of mucus. Often, doctors advise taking an infusion of licorice root (thinns phlegm), echinacea tincture (to increase immunity) and a tonic infusion of wild rose

Health resort procedures, mountain air, halotherapy, balneotherapy (carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide baths), health path are well suited 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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