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What is Bronchitis?
Bronchitis is an inflammation in the lining of the bronchial tubes or bronchi, the air passages that extend from the windpipe into the lungs. The inflammation can be caused by bacteria, a virus, dust or smoking. Tiny hairs called cilia, line the bronchial passage and trap incoming pollutants. They move rhythmically back and forth, creating an upward current that directs any trapped particles up through the trachea (windpipe) and into the throat. If these tiny hairs are continually irritated by habits such as smoking, they can stop functioning. The result is that the air passage becomes clogged with debris, which causes further irritation with the secretion of a mucus that brings on the well-known cough of bronchitis.

Types of Bronchitis
Acute Bronchitis is the sudden inflammation of the bronchial tree which includes the trachea (windpipe) and the bronchi (air passages of lungs). This is usually associated with a respiratory tract infection such as the common cold. Brief episodes of acute bronchitis often develop from a harsh cold, which may be accompanied with a flu and a cough with mucus production. On average, acute bronchitis can last for 10 or 12 days. Apart from the obvious symptoms of a cold, a person may feel, weak and suffer chest pain.

Chronic Bronchitis is described as an excessive secretion of mucus in the bronchi and a chronic or re-occurring cough, which lasts for several months, then returns year after year. Health practitioners usually attempt to rule out serious lung infections, cancer or heart disease before diagnosing chronic bronchitis. This form of bronchitis can develop from continuing episodes of acute bronchitis or gradually due to smoking or the inhalation of contaminated air. People who have chronic bronchitis are more susceptible to bacterial infections of the airway and lungs, like pneumonia. Chronic bronchitis can be life threatening and immediate medical treatment should be sought.

Bronchitis and Smoking
The figures clearly indicate the strong link between cigarette smoking and chronic bronchitis. Unless other irritants can be isolated as the cause of an individual case of chronic bronchitis, then the person if a smoker, should give up immediately. Remember, smoking kills! Please view our stop-smoking section for further details.

Bronchitis sufferers are treated through a combination of rest, fluid intake, antibiotics, decongestants and cough suppressants, which are prescribed by a GP, depending on the severity of the case. Importantly, a person suffering from chronic bronchitis needs to make some serious lifestyle changes, by taking more exercise, stopping smoking, improving their diet and avoiding dust, cold/dry air.


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