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One thing that everyone dreads while recovering from flu is the bronchitis that usually follows. Bronchitis is the infection of the major airway tubes which lead to the lungs (bronchi) caused usually by a virus. Flu depresses the immune resistance of the body and leaves the lungs irritable, providing ideal ground for the virus, which causes bronchitis, to multiply.
Similarly, any other condition which can cause chronic lung irritation, e.g. exposure to cigarette smoke or toxic fumes, can result in the development of bronchitis. In rare circumstances, there can be a superimposed bacterial or fungal infection on viral bronchitis, leading to diseases like pneumonia, etc.
Common symptoms and treatment of bronchitis
Some of the common symptoms of bronchitis include persistent coughing with mucus production, chest pain, body ache, shortness of breath, wheeze, hoarse throat, low grade fever, and loss of appetite. Large quantities of semi-solid phlegm may be produced and expelled out while coughing. A persistent dry cough may last for days together even after the infection has cleared up.
Usually bronchitis is transient in nature and clears up on its own in two to three weeks. Since it is caused by a virus,no antibiotic is required. Medication is required only if the symptoms become quite bothersome. You can take painkillers for the chest and body ache, or a cough suppressant, but nothing else apart from these medicines is required.
Acute bronchitis is a contagious disease which can spread from one person to the other due to transmission of the virus. When an infected person coughs, the virus are spread through air and any person coming in contact with the contaminated air may develop the disease. Similarly coming in contact with objects touched by an infected person can also result in the transmission of virus.
Relief from the troublesome cough
Although there is no specific medication to treat bronchitis, there are several measures that one can take to get some degree of relief from the troublesome cough. Some of the home remedies for bronchitis include:
Humidifying the air that you breathe in helps in loosening the phlegm and coughing it out. Breathing in from a pan containing boiling water facilitates the steam to reach your lungs directly. Adding a few drops of peppermint or eucalyptus oil to the water further helps in soothing the irritated walls of the bronchi. Standing under a hot shower is another way of inhaling warm, humidified air. The phlegm accumulated in the lungs gets dislodged with the help of humidified air and can be spitted out easily.