Acute vs Chronic Bronchitis

Acute bronchitis is more common during cold and flu season. Acute inflammation is caused by a virus or bacterial infection and usually resolves on its own except for people with:
1. Respiratory irritants such as cigarette smoke, pollutants, chemicals
2. Lowered immune system- such as children, elderly, pregnancy, cancer,
diabetes, HIV
3. Heartburn- GERD
4. Respiratory conditions- Asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
(COPD)
Symptoms usually began with upper respiratory set the symptoms such as sore throat stuffy nose and cough. The cough starts as a dry hacking nonproductive and usually interrupts sleep. After a few days mucus production begins. Chest X rays may be normal or show inflammation. Scattered wheezing may be noted, and fever may be present. Respiratory infections can last up to 3 weeks. Symptoms include cough with little to no sputum, low grade fever or chills, sore throat, body aches, tightness or pressure of the chest. Sputum tests look for type of respiratory infection such as pertussis.

Chronic bronchitis involves excessive mucus production. There is a relationship between the amount and duration of cigarette smoking and severity of bronchitis. But in advanced stages of chronic bronchitis, emphysema can develop as well as heart failure, increased airway obstruction, and Polycythemia which can result in pulmonary embolism. Diagnosis occurs when the cough and increased mucus production occurs three months each year for two years. Advanced stages of chronic bronchitis can resemble emphysema. Over time chest xray results would show hyperinflation of the lungs. Pulmonary function tests show airway obstruction.

Seek medical care if:
1. Cough lasts more than 3 weeks
2. Prevents you from sleeping
3. Fever of more than 100.4
4. Yellow/green/dark colored mucus or having streaks of blood
5. Having wheezing or SOB

Treatment includes bed rest, and increase of fluid intake as well as:
1. An antibiotic if infection is bacterial
2. Cough medicine- to help expectorate mucus. Cough suppressant only at
bedtime allows for better sleep
3. Inhalers to reduce inflammation and open narrowed passages in your lungs
4. Wear mask if your exposed to respiratory irritants at work
5. Use humidifier
6. Vaccines- flu, and pneumonia
7. Hand washing to prevent spread of viral infections.
8. Use hand sanitizers

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6 Key Symptoms of Asthma

The Mayo Clinic defines Asthma as “…a condition in which your airways narrow and swell and produce extra mucus. This can make breathing difficult…” The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports there are 24 million people with Asthma, 6 million of which are children. Over 14 million doctor office visits were related to asthma, and 1.8 million emergency department visits.

6 Symptoms Key to Asthma

1. Wheezing
2. Cough
3. Frequent episodes with difficulty breathing or shortness of
breath, with or without wheezing.
4. Frequent episodes of chest tightness.
5. Symptoms worsen when exposed to respiratory irritants, such as
cigarette smoke, pollen, animal fur, exercise, etc.
6. Symptoms worsen at night.

Asthma is a controllable condition through an action plan. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and the National Asthma Control Initiative the goal of therapy is control by prevention of asthmatic episodes. An action plan allows asthmatics to be healthy, and active, and involves:

a. Following your treatment plan prepared by your medical doctor.
b. Managing environmental triggers.

Knowledge is power!
It is important to be aware anxiety does not cause asthma. Asthma is caused by an inflammation. Asthmatic medications do not cause addiction. Asthmatic medications do not lose their effectiveness over time. Never delay starting treatment to see if the asthma will improve by itself. Always check you have enough medication left in the inhalers, as well as for expired dates. Corticosteroids are safe, and are not the same as anabolic steroids. Watch for asthma triggers such as respiratory irritants (pollutants, second hand smoke, flu, etc.) that can worsen symptoms. Rinse mouth after using inhaled medication. No eating peanut butter.
Daily control is demonstrated by good breathing, no cough or wheeze, being able to have a good night sleep, and the ability to play and exercise. If you have cough, mild wheezing, chest tightness, especially at night use your quick relief medication. If your symptoms are not controlled within 20 minutes or after 2 efforts of quick relief, call your doctor or go to urgent or emergency care. If quick relief medication is required more than 2 times a week, then call your doctor. Do not wait to get emergency help if you are breathing hard and fast, your nose is flaring, your ribs are moving deeply in and out, you have difficulty walking and talking, you have blue lips, fingernails or earlobes. Get the flu vaccine every year.