It develops when pathogens, which trigger colds, spread to the bronchial mucous membranes. Usually it is triggered primarily by the viruses that also cause a cold. However, bacteria may establish themselves on the damaged mucous membranes. In this case it is a so-called superinfection. In rare cases, bacteria may also be the actual pathogen that causes bronchitis – then we are dealing with a bacterial infection. Usually, people affected have caught it by droplet infection from other people who are sick.
What causes bronchitis and why?
What are the bronchial tubes?
The bronchial system is the branched system of the respiratory tract in the lungs. It is coated with mucous membranes that have cilia – the bronchial mucous membrane. The trachea divides into two main bronchial tubes. The bronchial tubes branch more and more inside the lungs – they are now termed bronchioles. Ultimately, they open into air sacs, also called alveoli.
What types of bronchitis are there?
Bronchitis is inflammation of the bronchial mucous membrane. It is also called bronchial catarrh and is one of the most common respiratory tract illnesses. Bronchitis can be acute or chronic. Normally, acute bronchitis lasts for around 7 to 10 days. It usually starts a few days after the onset of a flu-like infection. The primary symptom of the cough usually lasts a few days longer than the other cold symptoms.
Bronchitis is chronic if it occurs within two years for longer than three months per year in one stretch.
If the inflammation also affects part of the trachea in addition to the bronchial mucous membrane, this is tracheobronchitis. If the inflammation spreads to the lung tissue, this results in inflammation of the lungs (pneumonia or bronchopneumonia).
What causes the tormenting dry cough?
Coughing is a protective reflex of our body: if foreign bodies constrict the respiratory tract, the cough reflex provides relief. If the respiratory tract is irritated due to an infection and inflamed, this also triggers the urge to cough. The goal is to remove the secretion from the bronchial tubes. Then coughing is helpful and is called productive.
Unfortunately not all coughing is productive - i.e., the mucus is not released. Instead we are tormented by a tickling dry cough. This chiefly happens at night when the body is relaxed and can even be convulsive. Then relieving the urge to cough and antispasmodic homoeopathic cough drops are helpful.
Possible consequences of bronchitis
Bronchitis can severely irritate the mucous membranes and if it recurs frequently it can give rise to a hypersensitive bronchial system. Furthermore, chronic bronchitis can develop. An infection with pneumococi or other bacteria can lead to inflammation of the lungs (pneumonia). It usually develops as bronchopneumonia because the inflammation of the bronchial mucous membrane spreads to the lungs.
Permanent irritation and inflammation of the bronchial mucous membranes, can lead to constriction (obstruction). It is referred to as obstructive bronchitis or chronic-obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This is characterized by coughing, increased phlegm and breathlessness upon exertion. The major risk factor for chronic bronchitis and COPD is smoking. It destroys the cilia in the bronchial mucous membrane. These are usually responsible for removal of harmful substances. Furthermore, smoking promotes inflammatory processes and weakens the immune system.
COPD is often known colloquially as "smoker's cough" for this reason. Pulmonary emphysema can even develop which causes enlargement of the air sacs thus impairing lung function.
Treatment of acute bronchitis
If the symptoms do not disappear after a few days on their own, consult a doctor. This applies particularly if there are symptoms such as fever or breathlessness. Treatment depends on the pathogen causing the bronchitis. If this was caused by viruses, the treatment is preferably targeted to relieving the symptoms. Cough expectorants can be very helpful. Antibiotics only make sense if the bronchitis was caused by a bacterial infection. Drinking plenty and high humidity in the bedroom are always important as the mucous membranes need a lot of moisture.
Home remedies for bronchitis
Absolutely key: inhale a saline solution several times a day.
Essential oils or chamomile can be added to the saline solution. However, small children and asthmatics should not use essential oils such as eucalyptus oil.
Drink plenty to liquefy the secretion – ideally plenty of hot tea sweetened with honey.
Sugar solutions have characteristics which ease dry coughs. Detractors even claim that the effect of many cough mixtures is mainly due to their high sugar content. In any case, home remedies, such as onion cough mixture, help because of the sugar. Chop a red onion and add brown (candy) sugar or honey. Then take the onion cough syrup resulting from this by the spoonful.
Take cough drops such as Bronchopas® with a teaspoonful of sugar or honey.
Increase the humidity in your bedroom (clothes horse).
Relieve coughs using natural medicines: Bronchopas®
Many plants, homeopathically prepared, act selectively against convulsive coughs.
The drug Bronchopas® Drops combines the most important active substances.