Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes that carry air to your lungs. There are two types of bronchitis — acute and chronic. Neither type has an actual cure, but you can treat the symptoms and can take preventive measures to keep you or your child from getting bronchitis.
Acute bronchitis typically develops from a cold or other respiratory condition. Cigarette smoke and pollution can also cause bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis is more serious and requires medical attention. With chronic bronchitis, you or your child have repeated bouts of bronchitis. Smoking is one contributor to chronic bronchitis. Treatment for bronchitis is to relieve symptoms and help the patient breathe better.
Acute bronchitis usually clears up on its own in seven to 10 days. You can treat the condition by using a humidifier, taking cough medicine with an expectorant to bring up the mucus, by resting and by getting enough fluids. A doctor may prescribe antibiotics if the bronchitis is the result of a bacterial infection. Typically, bronchitis is from a viral infection, so the antibiotics won’t help. For chronic bronchitis, you may also use an inhaler or other medications to reduce the inflammation of the bronchial tubes.
What to Avoid
More measures you or your child can take with bronchitis are to avoid exposure to irritants, such as cigarette smoke, air pollution, dust or household cleaners that have strong fumes. If you are going to be around such substances, wearing a mask can help. If you do use a humidifier, make sure you keep it clean. Bacteria and fungi can grow in the water container. If the cold weather aggravates the bronchitis, consider a cold-air face mask. For chronic bronchitis, you or your child should concentrate on breathing slower. Take a deep breath through your nose, and slowly release the air through your mouth. This helps to increase the air pressure in your airways, according to MayoClinic.com.
Some herbs help to prevent respiratory illnesses, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Echinacea can help prevent colds, which lead to bronchitis. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should not take echinacea. Andrographis combined with eleuthero that you can find in Kan Jang, a natural dietary supplement from China used to boost the immune system, can help reduce cold symptoms. Garlic can help ward off colds. Pregnant or breastfeeding women or people who take blood thinners should not take garlic. Ginseng may help prevent colds. An essential oil combination that includes eucalyptus, citrus oil and extract from pine can help with respiratory illness. Peppermint treats cold symptoms. Its active ingredient, menthol, helps loosen phlegm.
You can try to prevent bronchitis by changing your environment. Cold, damp locations combined with pollution or cigarette smoke can make you or your child susceptible to bronchitis. Besides avoiding smoking, avoid people who have a cold or flu, get an annual flu shot and wash your hands regularly.