Bronchitis Causes

Bronchitis raleigh nc causes inflammation and swelling in the bronchial tubes, the airways connecting the nose and mouth to the lungs.  Symptoms typically include a nagging cough, heavy phlegm or mucus, wheezing, trouble breathing, a mild fever, and aches.  Bronchitis is either acute, which generally clears up within a few weeks, or chronic, which is persistent and permanent.  This article will examine the various causes of bronchitis as well as any risk factors. Heritage providers are highly trained to recognize bronchitis causes and provide the most effective treatment options.

Viral Infection

Responsible for roughly 85-95% of acute bronchitis cases each year, the most common cause of acute bronchitis is a viral infection.  The most common viruses that can lead to bronchitis are influenza A and B, parainfluenza virus, rhinovirus, and adenovirus.  Most recently Corona Virus has been found to trigger bronchitis events. Frequently, bronchitis can develop from having a viral infection and because of the irritation done to the bronchi, symptoms may last for weeks.  The bronchitis infection generally will resolve on its own and symptoms can be managed with pain relievers and cough suppressants or expectorants.  To reduce the risk of contracting or passing on an infection, a person should frequently wash their hands, cough or sneeze into a tissue, and take additional care around the young, elderly, or those with weakened immune systems.

Bacterial Infection

Far less common than viral infections, only about 10% of bronchitis cases are caused by bacteria.  Occasionally, bacterial bronchitis occurs during or after a patient has had a viral upper respiratory infection.  The most common bacteria to cause acute bronchitis are Chlamydia pneumoniae, Bordetella pertussis (whooping cough), and Mycoplasma pneumoniae.  Acquiring acute bronchitis from bacteria is more likely when many people in an area are affected by an outbreak, exposed to others with a bacterial infection or have chronic medical problems.  Bacterial bronchitis may be treated with prescribed antibiotics such as amoxicillin, azithromycin, deoxycycline, erythromycin, or cefuroxime.  Because of the possible side effects associated with some antibiotics, patients should be sure to communicate any complications to their Heritage healthcare provider immediately.  Additionally, the use of antibiotics can cause bacteria to develop resistance that may make future infections more difficult to treat. At Heritage we take extra special care to ensure you receive the most appropriate treatment.

Environmental Exposure

There are numerous substances that can irritate the lungs and lead to bronchitis such as dust, mold spores, chemical fumes or vapors, tobacco smoke, and air pollution.  The best method to resolve the condition is to avoid the irritant to the best extent possible. Heritage may recommend allergy testing to determine the cause of your bronchitis.

Risk Factors

There are several things that put people are at an increased risk for developing bronchitis including:

  • Have inflammation caused by a virus or bacteria
  • Smoking or inhaling secondhand smoke
  • Have asthma
  • Have allergies
  • Life or work in environments where frequently exposed to irritants
  • Exposure to the Corona Virus

How to Prevent Bronchitis

While it is not always possible to avoid exposure to a virus or bacteria that causes bronchitis, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk.  Frequently washing hands, getting an influenza shot each year, and avoiding anyone that is sick, are recommended ways for avoiding exposure.  Patients age 65 or older, those with chronic medical conditions or smokers, should discuss getting a pneumonia shot with their Heritage provider. To minimize any environmental exposure, avoid lung irritants or wear a mask to cover the mouth and nose.  Quitting smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke, are also highly advisable as they can damage the lungs and airways making them more susceptible to infection. Heritage has a host of smoking cessation options available for those who may be ready to quit.

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