Bronchitis is one of the most common illnesses of the lungs and is one of the top five diseases diagnosed in people in the United States for the past 20 years (Bono, 2008).. It basically characterized by the swelling or inflammation of the bronchi, which are the airways that directs air into the lungs (US National Library of Medicine & National Institutes of Health, 2008). Since it affects the passage of air into the lungs, it usually causes cough, tightness of the chest, and shortness of breath among others.
Based on the reports of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Health Statistics, in 1994 alone, there were 12 million cases of bronchitis. Moreover, in the United States, 4 per cent of adults aged 18 years old and above were diagnosed with chronic bronchitis in 2006. In the same year, according to the report, there were more women were diagnosed with bronchitis and other respiratory illnesses such as asthma and sinusitis than men (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention & National Center for Health Statistics, 2007).
In addition to that, in the United States, adults who belong to poor families will more likely be diagnosed with bronchitis, whether chronic or acute than those who belong to rich families. Race also posed a significant figure in the 2006 report as there were more non-Hispanic white and black adults who were diagnosed with chronic bronchitis as compared to Hispanic adults in America (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention & National Center for Health Statistics, 2007).
These figures basically show that bronchitis proves that bronchitis is one of the most common respirator illnesses around the world and has a significant impact on people considering the fact that it is directly linked to smoking. In this regard, this paper will discuss bronchitis in detail, including its acute and chronic types as well as its causes, diagnosis, possible complications and treatment. Types of Bronchitis Bronchitis can be either Acute, which is a sudden onset of the illness or Chronic, which is the long term type (US National Library of Medicine & National Institutes of Health, 2008).
Acute bronchitis is mainly characterized by the production of sputum or phlegm and coughing. It occurs when the bronchial tubes that carry get infected and as a result, swell, causing mucus to form within them. Due to the formation of mucus, the cilla, which are tiny hairs that catch and remove pollutants, cease to function, causing difficulty in breathing and chest pains or tightening of the chest (American Academy of Family Physicians, 2008).
On the other hand, chronic bronchitis is not necessarily caused by infection as it is part of a disease called Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) that also occurs together with emphysema, which is the destruction of lung tissue (American Academy of Family Physicians, 2008). Like the acute type, chronic bronchitis is also characterized by the inflammation of the bronchial tubes that causes the production of mucus and blocks the passage of air into the lungs. Furthermore, the length of time of the symptoms caused by acute and chronic bronchitis differs from one another.
Acute bronchitis normally lasts for 10 days or less and is followed or accompanied by flu or a mild cold (American Academy of Family Physicians, 2008). On the other hand, chronic bronchitis lasts for several months and it usually recurs every year in a person and may never go away at all. This is due to the excessive production of mucus and the permanent irritation and damage to the walls lining the bronchi (American Academy of Family Physicians, 2008). Moreover, acute bronchitis is more contagious than the chronic type because it is caused by microorganisms (University of Maryland Medical Center, 2008)..
The disease can be spread through coughing out the viruses which can be inhaled by other people who are near the infected person. Causes and Risk Factors Generally, the one of the main differences between the acute and chronic bronchitis is the agent or factor causing them. Acute bronchitis, being an infection, is caused by bacteria or viruses. The common viruses that cause acute bronchitis are the rhinovirus, influenza type A and B, parainfluenza virus, adenovirus, Coxsackie virus strain A21, and the respiratory syncytial virus.
The other less common viruses that cause the condition include the coronavirus, rubella, herpesvirus, echovirus, and measles (Bono, 2008). On the other hand, the most common bacteria that cause bronchitis are the Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Streptococcous pneuomoniae, Bordetella pertussis, and Chlamydophila or Chlamydia pneumoniae (Bono, 2008). It is these bacteria and viruses that irritate the bronchi and cause them to the produce mucus. In addition, inhaling certain fumes such as air from factories and tobacco smoke can also irritate the bronchi and cause acute bronchitis.
Chronic bronchitis, on the other hand, is mainly caused by cigarette smoking. When the smoke is breathed into the lungs, it causes the bronchi to swell and produce large amounts of mucus which clog the passage of air (American Academy of Family Physicians, 2008). In other words, the more a person smokes, the more he or she risks having chronic bronchitis. However, people who have been exposed to certain chemical fumes, dust, and other substances harmful to the lungs can also get chronic bronchitis.
Moreover, there are also several risk factors that increase a person’s chances of getting both acute and chronic bronchitis. These include living with a person who smokes a lot or inhaling secondhand smoke and conditions that damages the immune system. Another risk factor is Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in which the acids in the stomach move up into a person’s esophagus and causes persistent cough (Mayo Clinic, 2007). Symptoms The three common symptoms of both acute and chronic bronchitis are expectorating cough, wheezing, and shortness of breath or dyspnea.
In chronic bronchitis, there are times when the mucus produced after coughing is streaked with blood (University of Maryland Medical Center, 2008). Other symptoms of the two conditions may also include fatigue, headaches, general ill feeling or malaise, fever, soreness in the throat, flu, chest pain, and chills (University of Maryland Medical Center, 2008). Aside from the three common symptoms, these symptoms may all be present at the same time or may never manifest completely depending on the severity of the condition. Diagnosis
Usually, the doctor first conducts a physical examination on a patient with a suspected case of bronchitis. The purpose of this examination is to find out if the patient is wheezing, has prolonged expiration, and has a decreased breathing intensity. When the patient is found to be manifesting these conditions, the doctor then runs several tests on him or her to confirm the diagnosis. In addition, the doctor often asks the patient about the symptoms he or she is exhibiting and also asks if he or she is smoking and how long has he or she been smoking as these are vital to the diagnosis (American Academy of Family Physicians, 2008).
Moreover, the tests done to diagnose both chronic and acute bronchitis include a chest x-ray, arterial blood gas, pulmonary function tests, complete blood count (CBC), chest CT scan, and exercise function (University of Maryland Medical Center, 2008). However, in cases of acute bronchitis, most of the time, the doctor only examines a patient’s current condition and reviews his or her medical history before making a diagnosis. In the case of chronic bronchitis, the CBC is performed to find out if there is inflammation.
Normally, chronic bronchitis is diagnosed in people who have been coughing producing excessive mucus for 3 months or more in 2 consecutive years (University of Maryland Medical Center, 2008). Treatment and Prevention Since most cases of acute bronchitis are caused by viruses and not bacteria, there are usually no antibiotics, which are medications that eliminate bacteria, given to a patient. Most of the time the doctor will only advise the patient to get plenty of rest, drink a lot of fluids, and increase the humidity in his or her environment as this soothes his or her lung airways (University of Maryland Medical Center, 2008).
However, there are cases when medications such as bronchodilators are given to a patient as this helps loosen the tight air passages in his or her lungs. On the other hand, there is no direct treatment for chronic bronchitis. The main goal in treating this type of disease is to alleviate the symptoms and prevent them from further complicating. In certain cases, corticosteroids are used in patients who do not respond to other treatments and who have a severe case of wheezing (University of Maryland Medical Center, 2008).
Bronchodilators are also used at times to widen the air passages and decrease the inflammation. Moreover, breathing exercises and physical exercise programs are treatments that are normally used on patients with chronic bronchitis. Oxygen therapy and lung transplant are only used in severe cases. To prevent both types of bronchitis, all doctors advise that it is highly essential to cut down on smoking or quit the habit entirely as this would enable the bronchi in the lungs to heal faster (American Academy of Family Physicians, 2008).
For acute bronchitis, doctors recommend frequent washing of hands and covering of the mouth when coughing or when a person nearby is coughing. It is also advisable to avoid inhaling toxic fumes as these significantly irritate the air passages of the lungs. References American Academy of Family Physicians. (2008). Acute Bronchitis. Family Doctor. org. Retrieved August 2, 2008 from http://familydoctor. org/online/famdocen/home/common/infections/common/mulitsource/677. printerview. html. American Academy of Family Physicians. (2008). Chronic Bronchitis. Family Doctor. org.
Retrieved August 2, 2008 from http://familydoctor. org/online/famdocen/home/articles/280. printerview. html. Bono, M. J. (2008). Current Management of Bronchitis. Emergency Medicine Magazine. Retrieved August 2, 2008 from http://www. emedmag. com/html/pre/fea/features/040020029. asp. Center for Disease Control and Prevention & National Center for Health Statistics. (2007). Summary Health Statistics for U. S. Adults: National Health Interview Survey. Retrieved August 2, 2008 from http://www. cdc. gov/nchs/data/series/sr_10/sr10_235. pdf. Mayo Clinic. (2007). Bronchitis.
Retrieved August 2, 2008 from http://www. mayoclinic. com/print/bronchitis/DS00031/DSECTION=all&METHOD=print. United States National Library of Medicine & National Institutes of Health. (2008). Bronchitis. MedlinePlus. Retrieved August 2, 2008 from http://www. nlm. nih. gov/medlineplus/bronchitis. html. University of Maryland Medical Center. Chronic Bronchitis. Retrieved August 2, 2008 from http://www. umm. edu/ency/article/000119. htm. University of Maryland Medical Center. Acute Bronchitis. Retrieved August 2, 2008 from http://www. umm. edu/ency/article/000124sym. htm.