What is bronchitis?
Bronchitis is an inflammation of the trachea and bronchial tree. Bronchitis can be either acute or chronic. Acute bronchitis may be caused by viral or bacterial infections and is often preceded by an upper respiratory tract infection. Acute bronchitis can also result from irritation of the mucous membranes by environmental fumes, acids, solvents, or tobacco smoke.
Chronic bronchitis may result from prolonged exposure to bronchial irritants. Cigarette smoking, environmental toxins, and inhaled allergens can all cause chronic irritation of the bronchi. Chronic bronchitis is typically seen in adults who have smoked over 20 cigarettes per day for more than 20 years.
What are the symptoms of bronchitis?…..
Acute infectious bronchitis is often preceded by signs of an upper respiratory tract infection: stuffy, runny nose, malaise, chills, fever, muscle pain, and sore throat. The cough is initially dry and does not produce mucus. Later, small amounts of thick, green or green-yellow sputum may be coughed up.
Chronic bronchitis is characterized by a productive cough that initially only occurs in the morning.
Conventional treatment options
Rest and oral fluids are recommended in the fever stage of acute bronchitis. Antibiotics are used when the sputum becomes dark green or yellow, indicating a bacterial infection. For most adults, tetracycline (Achromycin®, Sumycin®) or ampicillin (Amficot®, Omnipen®, Principen®, Totacillin®) are the antibiotics used first. Alternatively trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim®, Septra®) may be recommended. Symptomatic treatment of cough may be given to aid sleep, although coughing is important during the day to clear out infected sputum. Antitussives (cough suppressants) include dextromethophan (e.g., Benylin® DM, Vicks® Formula 44) and codeine. The most commonly used expectorant (drug that stimulates expulsion of bronchial secretions) is guaifenesin (e.g., Guiatuss®, Humibid®, Robitussin®).
Treatment of chronic bronchitis includes smoking cessation and a variety of drugs directed at relieving symptoms (e.g., ß2-agonists) or treating superimposed bacterial infections (antibiotics).
Key nutritional supplements
- N-acetyl cysteine (NAC): (600 mg a day) NAC can reduce the number of exacerbations of chronic bronchitis. Smokers have also been found to benefit from taking NAC. These benefits may result from NAC’s ability to reduce the thickness of sputum.
- Vitamin C: (500 mg per day preventively; 1,500 mg on the first day of a cold, followed by 1,000 mg per day for the next four days) The common cold may lead to bronchitis in susceptible individuals. Vitamin C can decrease the severity and duration of the common cold, thus reducing the risk of bronchitis.
Other nutritional supplements that may be helpful
- Vitamin A*
- Vitamin E*
Other herbs that may be helpful
- Barberry (Berberis vulgaris)*
- Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)*
- Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)*
- Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)*
Lifestyle changes that may be helpful
- Breast-feeding: Breast-feeding provides important nutrients to an infant and improves the functioning of the immune system. Studies have shown that breast-feeding prevents the development of lower respiratory tract infections during infancy.
- Chemical exposure: Reduce exposure to environmental chemicals, including passive smoke, especially in children.
Dietary changes that may be helpful
- Eat more fish: People suffering from chronic bronchitis may experience an improvement in symptoms when consuming a diet high in anti-inflammatory fatty acids, such as those found in fish.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables: Increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables, which are high in protective antioxidants, may reduce the risk of developing chronic bronchitis.
- Avoid allergenic foods: Food allergies may trigger some cases of chronic bronchitis.
- Avoid dairy products: Some doctors believe that dairy products can contribute to excess mucus production.
- Avoid simple sugars: Sugars (such as sucrose or fructose) can lead to suppression of immune function; therefore, some doctors believe simple sugars should be avoided during illness.