Bronchitis is an inflammatory disease in which inflammation occurs in the bronchi, the passageways through which air travels during breathing. Bronchitis, which is classified into acute and chronic forms, refers to a state in which an acute inflammatory reaction occurs due to the invading of pathogens such as viruses and bacteria into the trachea. In addition, chronic bronchitis, unlike acute bronchitis caused by infection with pathogens such as viruses and bacteria, refers to a disease in which the bronchial tubes are exposed to harmful substances for a long time and are in a continuous inflammatory state. Clinically, chronic bronchitis is diagnosed when cough and sputum symptoms appear for at least 3 months a year and for 2 consecutive years or more. The main causes of chronic bronchitis are stimuli that can cause bronchial damage, such as smoking, air pollution, and occupational exposure to chemicals and coal dust, which are known to affect the development of chronic bronchitis. In addition, it is estimated that factors such as genetic factors such as family history, childhood respiratory infection, bronchial hypersensitivity, atopy, drinking, decreased immunity, eating habits, and climate may also affect the onset of the disease. From now on, let’s learn more about the various symptoms that appear when chronic bronchitis occurs, as well as various information related to treatment and prevention.
Main symptoms of chronic bronchitis
The main symptoms of chronic bronchitis are chronic cough and sputum discharge. Phlegm is usually white or slightly yellow in color and tends to be discharged in the morning. If the symptoms are severe, the amount of sputum increases or the shape of the sputum changes from mucous to purulent, turning bluish and yellow, and the viscosity gradually increases. In addition to wheezing, which is a wheezing sound when breathing, even a small movement causes shortness of breath, sometimes with blood mixed with sputum. If the disease progresses with these symptoms, breathing difficulty gradually worsens over several months to years. In addition, chronic bronchitis can cause complications such as emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and as the disease worsens, breathing difficulties or heart failure may occur. Therefore, if the related symptoms continue, it is very important to receive consistent and appropriate treatment.
How to treat and prevent chronic bronchitis
1. Diagnosis and treatment
In order to diagnose chronic bronchitis, chronic bronchitis is diagnosed through chest X-ray, CT, lung function test, sputum test, and bronchoscopy. Chronic bronchitis is treated with medication and symptomatic treatment. It is important to minimize the irritation applied to the bronchial tubes through actions such as improving the surrounding environment or quitting smoking, and to eliminate the cause of the occurrence. In addition, in the early stages of mild symptoms, medications are taken to thin sputum and suppress cough. As the symptoms progress further, the difficulty in breathing worsens, so depending on the severity of the symptoms, inhalants that can dilate the airways are taken according to different mechanisms. If the disease progresses further and you feel short of breath even at rest and cause symptoms such as hypoxia, treatment such as home oxygen therapy can be performed.
2. No smoking
In order to prevent chronic bronchitis and prevent worsening of symptoms, it is most important to eliminate risk factors. Among them, smoking is known as the most dangerous factor that causes chronic bronchitis and worsens symptoms, so smokers must stop smoking to prevent worsening of symptoms and damage to the lungs or airways. In addition, if you suspect occupational exposure to chemicals, dust, etc., it is important to prevent further exposure.
3. Stay hydrated
For the prevention of chronic bronchitis, it is very important to drink enough water to help discharge harmful substances and inflammation inside the bronchial tubes and to prevent drying of the bronchial mucosa. In particular, in the case of chronic bronchitis patients, it is essential to drink enough water to dilute sputum and make it easier to spit out. It is good to perform other aerobic exercise for about 30 minutes 3 to 4 times a week. Rather than doing high-intensity exercise all at once, it is important to gradually increase the amount of exercise and do it on a regular basis.