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Journey Toward Your Health
HEALTH TALK: Bronchitis Explained!!
This is the time of year when many people experience coughs, sinus problems, runny noses and trouble breathing. All of which can take the joy out of the Holidays.
The most common ailment and frequently the most misunderstood is bronchitis. Here are some facts to help identify bronchitis and steps to take before it becomes pneumonia.
Bronchitis is an acute inflammation of the air passages within the lungs. It occurs when the trachea (windpipe) and the large and small bronchi (airways) within the lungs become inflamed because of infection or other causes.
The thin mucus lining of these airways can become irritated and
The cells that make up this lining may leak fluids in response to the
Coughing is a reflex that works to clear secretions from the lungs.
Often the discomfort of a severe cough leads you to seek medical treatment.
Both adults and children can get bronchitis. Symptoms are similar for
Infants usually get bronchitis which involves the smaller airways and
Bronchitis occurs most often during the cold and flu season, usually coupled with an upper respiratory infection.
Several viruses cause bronchitis, including influenza A and B,
commonly referred to as "the flu."
A number of bacteria are also known to cause bronchitis, such as
, which causes so-called walking pneumonia.
Bronchitis also can occur when you inhale irritating fumes or dusts.
Chemical solvents and smoke, including tobacco smoke, have been linked to acute bronchitis.
People at increased risk both of getting bronchitis and of having more
severe symptoms include the elderly, those with weakened immune systems, smokers, and anyone with repeated exposure to lung irritants.
Acute bronchitis most commonly occurs after an upper respiratory infection such as the common cold or a sinus infection. You may see symptoms such as fever with chills, muscle aches, nasal congestion, and sore throat.
Cough is a common symptom of bronchitis. The cough may be dry or
may produce phlegm. Significant phlegm production suggests that the lower respiratory tract and the lung itself may be infected, and you may have pneumonia.
The cough may last for more than two weeks. Continued forceful
coughing may make your chest and abdominal muscles sore. Coughing
can be severe enough at times to injure the chest wall or even cause you to pass out.
Wheezing may occur because of the inflammation of the airways. This
When to call the doctor
Although most cases of bronchitis clear up on their own, some people may
have complications that their doctor can ease.
Severe coughing that interferes with rest or sleep can be reduced with
Wheezing may respond to an inhaler with albuterol (Proventil,
If fever continues beyond four to five days, see the doctor for a
physical examination to rule out pneumonia.
See a doctor if the patient is coughing up blood, rust-colored sputum,
If you or someone close to you experiences difficulty breathing with or
without wheezing and they cannot reach their doctor, visit the nearest Urgent Care Center for evaluation and treatment.
To access all of the HEALTH TALK columns, go to
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Care: Self-Care for You and Your Family, by Michael B. Jacobs, M.D.,
and select faculty of Stanford University School of Medicine. This is a
terrific book about prevention, home treatment, women’s and men’s
health. Write to me, Bob Rodriguez, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.Sc., Coordinator
of Health Management Programs at firstname.lastname@example.org,
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Little Boys (and sometimes little girls) Who Lift Their Leg Indoors This is such a common complaint, it seems there is a need to address it in a single place. There can be more than one reason for this happening and, probably an attempt to determine this reason is a good place to start. The first thing to do in all cases, is to determine if there is a medical reason for the problem. This