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Bronchitis - Overview

Bronchitis is a medical term for inflammation of the mucous membrane of the bronchi. It can be classified as acute bronchitis and chronic bronchitis.

In acute bronchitis a patient has to deal with cough (productive or nonproductive) and chest pain. Acute bronchitis is commonly caused by viral infections such as common cold or influenza. It is estimated that viruses lead to acute bronchitis in 90% of all cases and the rest is caused by bacteria.

Chronic bronchitis is considered a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It features with productive cough which lingers for at least three months, reoccurs and leads to chronic lung infection. Chronic bronchitis is in majority of cases caused by cigarette smoking and it is also associated with air pollution and occupational exposure to irritants. The symptoms of chronic bronchitis are persistent cough (productive), shortness of breath, chest pain, wheezing etc.

How to Prevent Bronchitis?

There are certain measures which if applied may in some cases prevent the occurrence of bronchitis.

The first and most effective way to prevent bronchitis is to quit smoking. Heavy smoking is associated with many lung conditions and bronchitis is only one of them. Even passive smoking is considered a risk factor for bronchitis. This is why even people who do not smoke may develop bronchitis if they are exposed to secondhand smoke for longer period of time.

Vaccination against certain viruses such as influenza virus is highly effective in prevention against bronchitis. After a person is vaccinated his/ her immune system develops specific antibodies which prevent infection caused by influenza viruses. This way viral bronchitis can be successfully evaded.

Acute bronchitis can be also prevented if one abstains from any kind of contact with the infected person. Cold and influenza spread via droplets which are ejected with cough and sneezing. If there is a need for a contact a person may wear a surgical mask and reduce risk of getting the infection.

Specific masks are also necessary for all people exposed to certain irritants or pollutants. People who are at professional risk for bronchitis must be suitably protected against harmful particles which may enter their respiratory tract and cause inflammation.

Proper hygiene is also one way to prevent bronchitis. Viral bronchitis is easily spread via infected objects. The infected person is should use disposable handkerchief and other people from his/her surrounding are supposed to wash their hands thoroughly and use hand sanitizers.

And finally, maintaining the health and efficacy of the immune system can be obtained with balanced diet and physical activity. Healthy and strong immune system can successfully fight against infection.

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