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Bronchitis. Symptoms and treatment in adults


Chronic bronchitis – Progressive disease with inflammation of the mucosa of the bronchial tubes. The disease is characterized by the alternation of remissions (quiescence) and exacerbations. Chronic bronchitis is often a complication of an acute form or develops due to long-term exposure to unfavorable conditions. The diagnosis is usually made if the coughing period lasts at least three months a year, after two years of observation.

Exacerbation – A phase of the disease in which inflammation increases and the body responds – cough with sputum. Inflammation destroys the ciliated epithelium, disrupts the structure of the mucosa, and reduces the cleansing and protective functions of the bronchi. As the disease progresses, negative processes can take over the lung tissue. In a severe course, there is a danger of narrowing of the bronchial tube diameter followed by serious illness – Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Acute bronchitis is characterized by an acute inflammatory process in the bronchi, due to which they swell, the secretion increases, breathing becomes difficult, there is a cough, usually with sputum. Adequate treatment can get rid of acute bronchitis without negative consequences – That is, the structure and activity of the organs are not disturbed. Untreated acute bronchitis can develop into chronic bronchitis.

The main types of bronchitis according to its cause:

Viral (the most common)

Bacterial (often as a complication of viral)

In addition to these types, there are fungal, chemical or mixed bronchitis, as well as bronchitis caused by chlamydia or mycoplasma.

Bronchitis can be obstructive – when the airways of the bronchi are obstructed, and nonobstructive – permeability remains normal.

Causes of bronchitis

To begin with, let’s find out what the bronchi are. It is a paired organ whose first task – Carrying oxygen to the lungs when you inhale, and removing waste gas when you exhale. The bronchi are like a branching tree, which point their wide-spread branches towards the lungs.

The second job of the lungs is to clean the air and protect the body from the entry of various infective agents and external pollutants (e.g. dust and pollen). This function is performed by the epithelium, which is made up of so-called cilia that move simultaneously in one direction. The vibrations of the cilia push the foreign elements out of the bronchial tubes together with the mucus.

Mucus also acts against germs and viruses by means of immunoglobulin, with which it is 10 times richer than blood. The quality of mucus protective capabilities is also determined by its fluidity (rheological properties).

However, the protective properties of the respiratory system are not one hundred percent. And if harmful microbes and viral agents do manage to break through the defense and penetrate the mucosal surface of the tracheobronchial tissue – they begin to damage its cells, generating an inflammatory response as a response. This is how bronchitis develops.

The airway in bronchitis becomes narrower because of swollen walls. The production of mucus increases – The body tries to produce as much of it as possible to expel foreign agents. This activates another defense mechanism – Cough. But inflammation increases the viscosity of the sputum, which prevents it from escaping. These processes that impair respiratory capacity are called obstruction.

Most often bronchitis is caused by adeno- and rhinoviruses, a variety of bacteria – For example, influenza or parainfluenza, staphylococci, streptococci. Allergic bronchitis due to the introduction of toxic particles into the bronchi is also possible.

Factors in bronchitis in adults may include smoking, harmful work (dust, soot, chemicals), alcohol abuse, chronic illnesses, advanced age.

Bronchitis: Symptoms in adults

The main signs of bronchitis in an adult – Cough with expectoration of sputum.

The main signs of acute bronchitis are as follows:

Sore throat and runny nose at first, indicating inflammation.

Dry cough, often in the form of attacks.

Cough in the course of the disease turns into a wet cough with sputum.

Coughing pain in the chest is likely.

The secreted mucus is – Colorless or yellowish-greenish – Bacterial infection may occur.

Chills, weakness, general malaise.

Fever often rises. If it rises above 38.5° C for more than 4 days, there is a risk of complications such as pneumonia.

Acute bronchitis usually passes in a couple of weeks, but residual effects in the form of coughing can persist for more than a week, since the process of bronchial recovery is long.

Symptoms of chronic bronchitis

Chronic bronchitis is characterized by remissions (quiet periods) and exacerbations.

During remissions, clear, colorless mucus is often secreted.

During exacerbations, the viscosity of mucus increases and its color becomes yellowish-greenish.

Dyspnea – important sign.

Temperature is usually normal, sometimes subfebrile.

Malaise, weakness, fatigue, sweating – During the acute period. Note: if the general symptoms persist and in remission – COPD is likely to develop (in this case, the skin becomes blue, the face – Swelling of the skin and face, indicating respiratory insufficiency.).

Allergic bronchitis

Associated with contact with an allergen.

Dry, often wheezing cough.

Temperature normal.

General weakness, malaise.

Often there are other allergic symptoms: runny nose, skin rash, conjunctivitis.

Allergic bronchitis can become chronic, often with an asthmatic component.

Bronchitis: Treatment in adults

The goals of treatment: eliminationReduce infection, reduce inflammation, help expel sputum, improve breathing function.

Chronic bronchitis is treated by pulmonologists or internists after careful diagnosis.

Treatment of bronchitis in adults: drugs

Antibiotics – Only if a bacterial infection is added.

Corticosteroids – If the disease is acute and severe, with complications.

Bronchodilators – Relieve bronchial spasm, ease the patient’s breathing.

Mucolytics – help to liquefy and expectorate mucus.

Antipyretics – only when the patient’s body temperature is critically elevated – over 38.5 o C.

Cough suppressants – exclusively for prolonged attacks, which significantly reduce the quality of life of the patient. Coughing is a defense mechanism and helps eliminate pathogens from the bronchi.


What is the best medicine for bronchitis in adults? There is no definite answer – The selection of remedies requires a comprehensive multifaceted approach. Medications for bronchitis in adults are taken only when prescribed by a doctor.


Physiotherapy – Includes a variety of methods that are characterized by a gentle effect and safety when used correctly. Let’s consider them in detail.

Electrophoresis: with calcium chloride – for wet cough; with potassium iodide – for dry cough. Electrophoresis with heparin on the chest – indicated in all patients.

Magnetotherapy – preserves the vital capacity of the lungs, reduces the activity of inflammation, improves blood circulation and bronchial conduction. The method reduces the intensity of clinical symptoms (cough, shortness of breath), accelerates the positive dynamics of treatment, reduces the medication load on the body and increases tolerance to physical activity.

Inhalations Mucolytics and bronchodilators (both in the physiotherapy room at the clinic and with portable inhalers and nebulizers) – Liquefy and help expel mucus, relieve breathing.

Quartz for the chest area – makes up for vitamin D deficiency, strengthens the general immune system, and reduces the risk of exacerbations.

Massage chest massage – Improves expectoration.

Breathing exercises – Accelerates repair of damaged tissues, increases respiratory function.

Therapeutic mud compresses, Spraying of medical mud, ozokerite, paraffin on the chest; warming lap compresses; baths – Pine and oxygen baths.

To qualitatively solve the question of how to treat bronchitis in adults, a number of other important measures will be needed. Maintain sufficient humidity in the room and ionize the air. Drink sufficient fluids (tea with raspberries, decoctions of chamomile and lime, cranberry juice, alkaline mineral water) – It expels harmful substances and improves mucus removal. Often doctors advise taking infusion of licorice root (thins sputum), tincture of echinacea (to improve immunity) and general tonic tincture of rosehip.

Well-suited for the treatment of chronic bronchitis are sanatorium procedures, mountain air, halotherapy, balneotherapy (carbon dioxide and hydrosulfide baths), health resorts.

Routine walking, exercise therapy and hardening (not with acute condition) are also useful.

It is desirable to do breathing exercises regularly, maintain remission with the help of portable magnetotherapy technique and make sure to get rid of bad habits.