Do not underestimate bronchitis

In the cold season you can hear real cough concerts in many places. I won't stay home because of such a trivial cough,"many people think. However, coughing is not always only a sign of a harmless cold, but often also of a more dangerous bronchitis. It's inflammation of the mucous membrane in the deep airways. This disease should not be taken lightly, but treated.

This is because bronchitis damages the mucous membrane of the bronchi, which loses its defensive power against the next pathogen. Bronchitis can also become chronic and persistent, especially if you do not cure the disease properly. It is therefore important to know the signs of bronchitis and to react correctly.

There is a distinction between acute and chronic bronchitis:

Typical initial characteristic of acute bronchitis is a dry, painful cough that worsens over time. Usually, those affected also suffer from a slight fever and mucous sputum. The ejection is usually white, but can also be yellow to greenish. Breathing sounds and occasional shortness of breath are also symptoms. Bronchitis is often preceded by a cold. They should therefore be alerted if coughing and sputum simply do not stop, even though the cold is already over. A mild bronchitis lasts two to three weeks. During the cold season, but even if you have to inhale smoke or dust, it can last for six to eight weeks. If the cough hurts, simply do not go away and you also have sputum. In practice, it is possible to determine whether bacteria or viruses cause bronchitis. If there are bacteria, the sputum has a greenish or yellowish colour. In this case, an antibiotic is prescribed.

However, if the sputum is colorless, there are viruses behind the bronchitis. Antibiotics do not help against viruses. But you yourself can help your body to cope with the infection. Above all, protection is now called for, perhaps even bed rest and plenty of hydration. So in the truest sense of the word: Wait and see and drink tea.

Coughing should not be prevented with cough blockers. It represents the body's attempt to rid the bronchial tubes of mucus. It is better to ease the solution of the mucus. There are drugs from the pharmacy. Pastilles with the essential oils of thyme, coltsfoot and Icelandic moss soothe the irritation of the bronchi. At night, however, it can still make sense to take cough-killers in order to be able to sleep. In severe bronchitis cases, the doctor uses cortisone for bronchial dilation. However, inhaling cigarette smoke is an absolute taboo during this time.

The transition from acute to chronic bronchitis is smooth. The symptoms are similar: the cough returns again and again, is especially strong in the morning and accompanied by sputum. Bronchitis is considered chronic if coughing or sputum occurs three months or longer every year for at least two years. The main reason for the chronification is usually cigarette smoke. In the case of such a smoking bronchitis, the most effective measure is to stop smoking. This usually leads to a significant reduction of cough and sputum within four weeks.

However, if you ignore smoking bronchitis, this can lead to COPD, a chronic inflammation of the bronchial mucosa that narrows the trachea. The greatest danger of COPD is that the inhaled air volume becomes smaller and smaller. It is particularly important for those affected to stop smoking. In addition, there are medications that have to be taken throughout life to enlarge the bronchial tubes. Chronic bronchitis can lead to further complications such as emphysema of the lungs, enlargement of the right heart or cancer of the bronchi. Chronic bronchitis is one of the most important causes of disability in Germany. For the sake of your health, do not cough for a long time and follow the advice of your doctor!

Copyright: Landeszentrale fuer Gesundheitsfoerderung in Rheinland-Pfalz e.V. (LZG) Germany

Text: Dr. Beatrice Wagner, Editor: Marielle Becker