Bronchitis Essay, Research Paper


Bronchitis is the inflammation of the bronchi. It may develop

suddenly, following a head cold (acute bronchitis), or it may persist or

return regularly for many years, causing progressive degeneration of the

bronchi and lungs (chronic bronchitis). Certain people are more susceptible

than others; Men are more of a target to bronchitis than women, out

numbering them 10 to 1 — the reasons are unclear. Of course smokers are

50 times more likely to get chronic bronchitis than non-smokers. Acute

bronchitis is a bacteria or virus infection, often following a cold

smoking. People who have acute bronchitis usually have a mild fever,

soreness under breast bone, irritated by coughing. First they have a dry

cough then the cough later brings up green and yellow mucus. The cough may

persist to 4 to 6 weeks. Chronic bronchitis is produced by other chronic

problem: sinusitis, smoking, TB, etc. The Bronchi becomes thick, inelastic,

and accumulate mucus and pus in lower part of lungs instead of bringing

discharges up and out. The result is chronic cough, shortness of breath,

sometimes spasm, and frequent infection.

Page 2


In acute bronchitis, the basic symptoms are a head cold, fever and

chills, running nose, aching muscles and possibly back pains. This is soon

followed by the obvious persistent cough. At first the cough is dry and

racking and eventually becomes phlegmy. The persistent cough is worse at

night than during the day, and when the person breathes in smoke and fumes.

The main symptoms most recognized in chronic bronchitis is, again, a

cough, with sputum, often occurring in paroxysms. Other symptoms in

chronic bronchitis are dependant on how much, or how little, emphysema is

present. This disorder causes the lungs to become overstretched, making

the breathing process difficult.

The chronic bronchitic with no emphysema tends to be overweight and

often has a bluish tinge to his or her lips due to lack of oxygen.

Shortness of breath only occurs during exercise and other strenuous

activity. The bronchitic with a great deal of emphysema, who has lost a

lot of his or her oxygen — exchanging ability, due to the condition, is

short of breath at all times. The bronchitic with emphysema very often are

underweight and, as the disease comes worse, develops a barrel chest. The

Chronic bronchitic also wheezes because of the obstruction.

NOTE: Emphysema is a state of overdistention of the tiny air-

containing sacs of the lung.

Page 3


The cause of bronchitis are from viral or bacterial infections which

spreads to the chest. The body uses defence mechanisms to try to prevent

the viruses and bacterias from spreading the infections. Examples of

defence mechanisms are sneezing, coughing, etc. There are also white blood

cells to help us the fight off the bacterias and viruses. However if new

viruses and bacterias enters our body then the white blood cells will have

to take some time to recognize the new viruses and bacterias. Fortunately,

a different kind of white blood cells try to fight off the bacterias and

viruses as much as they can but unfortunately as they are doing that, they

are releasing other chemicals. The chemicals enter the tissue that

surrounds the trachea (see page 5 — diagram 1) and they begin to expand

and swell up. As they expand, they squeeze the trachea (see pg 5 –

diagram 2). As a result, less air can pass through the trachea causing a

short of breath. Generally, bronchitis occurs with greater frequency in

winter, in damp, cold climates, and in heavy polluted environments.

Page 4


The best treatment for acute bronchitis is bed rest in a warm room.

Cough medicines will relieve the cough and aspirin will reduce the fever.

Acute bronchitis that is viral usually runs it’s course without medication.

A proper diet and avoidance of additional irritants such as smoking are

recommended. Steam inhalations is helpful in eliminating congestive mucus.

Antibiotics may be needed if the cause is bacteria.

Treatment of chronic bronchitis is more difficult. The patients lungs

are already damaged and the destruction of the airways are not easily


Bronchial dilator drugs may be given to the patient to relieve any

such obstruction, while physiotherapy will help the patient get rid of any

sputum. Yoga and breathing exercises may help shortness of breath. In

severe cases, urgent hospital treatment may be required. Oxygen may have

to be given through the course of the illness.

Postal drainage can also be tried. This is when the patient lies on a

bed, a large cushion raising the groin, and smaller pillows supporting the

chest. Tapping the chest in this position causes the patient to cough up


The patient should stop smoking immediately, although this will not

reverse the chronic bronchitis, it will arrest it. Chronic bronchitis

should try to avoid environments where there are irritants that can bring

on attacks.

Page 5


Bronchitis is prevented by keeping good health habits and by giving

instant treatment to milder respiratory infections. Living in a clean

environment and not smoking or not inhaling cigarette smoke is strongly


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