Acute bronchitis is one of the most common diagnoses made by primary care physicians. It is a condition of the upper respiratory tract where the mucus lining of the bronchial tubes, the large delicate tubes in the lungs, become inflamed.
Bronchitis usually develops rapidly and lasts fewer than 2 to 3 weeks and is characterized by a painful and persistent cough. At first, a dry hacking cough is present. After a few hours or days, the cough turns into a loose cough that produces thick mucous. Sufferers may find that they begin to cough up small amounts of thick green or yellow-green mucus or phlegm.
In most cases, acute bronchitis stems from a cold, the flu or a sore throat, where the infection spreads into the lungs. Thus, bronchitis is seen more often in the winter months than at other times of the year. Symptoms usually begin 3 to 4 days after an upper respiratory tract infection and can include a sore throat, runny nose, chills, fever and back or muscle pain. Breathing through congested airways can also produce a wheezing sound. Pain below the sternum or breastbone may be experienced as well.
Bronchitis, however, can also result from inhaling the fumes from acids, solvents, cigarettes or other environmental toxins. These too can irritate the mucus membranes of the bronchial tubes and cause inflammation. It can also be brought on by food allergies as well as environmental allergies to substances such as mold, pollen or dust.
Bronchitis can be particularly dangerous for elderly and those with compromised immune systems. If left unchecked, acute bronchitis can get worse or turn into pneumonia.Recommendations For Wellness
- Eating a diet high in fatty acids such as those found in fish, or supplementing with Omega 3 oil has been shown to reduce both the number and duration of reoccurrences of bronchitis. Omega-3 fatty acids are one of four basic fats that the body derives from foods. Some of the other fats,especially too much saturated fat,can be harmful to the body. But Omega-3s are good for the body and especially good for the heart.
- Eliminate dairy products. Dairy products are believed to increase mucus production in the body.
- If you are exposed to environmental toxins, supplementation with Antioxidants (vitamins A, C, E and selenium), such as those found in 'Defense Maintenance' (Balanced immune system support & nutrition) or 'Super Antioxidant' (Antioxidants neutralize free radicals & boost the body's immune system functioning) may protect you against free radical damage and reduce the risk of developing chronic bronchitis.
- Reduce your exposure to environmental toxins including second hand smoke whenever possible.
- Incorporate herbal supplements such as fenugreek and thyme (Expectorant for sinus & lungs. Open, loosen & stimulate gentle removal of mucus and phlegm). Fenugreek contains mucilagins which are known for soothing and relaxing inflamed tissues, while thyme has antiseptic qualities which are ideal for treating infections of the respiratory system. Thyme is also great for relieving chronic coughing and muscle spasms.
- Lobelia (Muscle relaxing respiratory & lymphatic stimulant) has a long history for relaxing respiratory muscles and reducing spasmodic coughing. It can also be used as an expectorant, where it helps to expel phlegm from the lungs, thus relieving congestion that is typically related to bronchitis. Lobelia should be used cautiously, because it may cause nausea and vomiting.
- Red clover (For all weakened conditions, immune system support) is known to calm bronchitis related coughs and relieve sore throats as well. Its antispasmodic properties are a good sedative to relax the muscle cramping and nervous exhaustion that can be associated with bronchitis.
- Herbal combinations can help to support and protect the lungs, while LH (Healer. Boosts immune system, relieve dryness, builds energy, and soothes the respiratory system) can be used to help reduce congestion in the lungs and sinuses, fight against respiratory infections and control coughing.
- If you have a dry cough, herbs can be taken to sooth irritated tissues.
- Vitamin C has been shown to decrease the duration and severity of a cold, thus helping reduce your risk of contracting bronchitis.
- Echinacea (Versatile immune system stimulant) can be taken to help boost the body's immune system and help fight off infection.
- Eucalyptus oil can be applied externally to the chest to help to expel mucus and fortify the respiratory system.
NOTE: Always obtain medical advice from a qualified physician.
By Dr Rita Louise
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