Bronchitis is a lung disease marked by incessant coughing, the over-production of phlegm, a congested head and nasal passages, and in severe cases can include coughing up blood. The condition can cause extreme fatigue as the body tires from coughing all the time. The condition is also referred to as COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
More than 10 million Americans suffer from bronchitis with women being twice as likely to suffer from an acute bout of this disease. Toxic smog in countries like China, Pakistan, India, and Russia cause millions of cases of bronchitis in people every year as well.
Bronchitis usually happens when the bronchi (tiny air passages in the lungs) become susceptible to a virus after a cold or flu. The viral pathogen settles in the lungs, causing the coughing and chest tightness.
Over 90 percent of acute bronchitis outbreaks are due to a viral infection. This means that antibiotics will not help cure them. Sadly, many doctors prescribe antibiotics for bronchitis anyhow, when they often do nothing more than weaken the immune system by killing off all the healthy bacteria in our guts.
This makes recovery from all infections more challenging, including viral infections because the gut is largely responsible for our overall immunity.
Is Bronchitis Contagious?
Since majority of Bronchitis in patients are caused due to a viral infection, yes, it can be contagious.
How to diagnose Bronchitis?
The best way to diagnose the problem is to visit a local physician. During the first few days of illness, it can be difficult to distinguish the signs and symptoms of bronchitis from those of a common cold. During the physical exam, your doctor will use a stethoscope to listen closely to your lungs as you breathe.
In some cases, your doctor may suggest the following tests:
- Chest X-ray. A chest X-ray can help determine if you have pneumonia or another condition that may explain your cough. This is especially important if you ever were or currently are a smoker.
- Sputum tests. Sputum is the mucus that you cough up from your lungs. It can be tested to see if you have illnesses that could be helped by antibiotics. Sputum can also be tested for signs of allergies.
- Pulmonary function test. During a pulmonary function test, you blow into a device called a spirometer, which measures how much air your lungs can hold and how quickly you can get air out of your lungs. This test checks for signs of asthma or emphysema.
Can you leave Bronchitis untreated ?
No. Bronchitis should be treated as soon as possible by visiting a local physician and taking medication and taking proper care to kill the infection. If left untreated, the infection can travel deeper into the respiratory system and develop into pneumonia. … Bronchial infections are usually viral, but long-lasting acute bronchitis can be caused by a bacteria
What Causes Bronchitis?
Bronchitis can be causes by a viral or bacterial infection of the lungs, chemical or environmental pollutants, or allergic reactions to environmental irritants.
People with asthma, smokers, and compromised immune systems are much more likely to suffer from bronchitis. The elderly also suffer from bronchitis more often, since their immune systems are often less hardy.
From a natural health perspective, bronchitis is caused by 6 contributing factors:
- The accumulation of toxins in the body which block proper circulation and impact immunity.
- Poor nutrition
- Poor digestion
- An imbalanced nervous system (often caused by unprocessed emotions)
- The accumulation of mental and physical stress without release
- The disruption of natural biorhythms
Though bronchitis usually begins as an upper respiratory infection, it is exacerbated by a poor diet, bad digestion and elimination, stress, poor lifestyle choices (like a lack of exercise, and an inconsistent eating and sleeping schedule), and bad circulation of oxygen throughout the body. This makes us more at risk to invasion by pathogens.
Allopathic Cures for Bronchitis
Allopathic medicine does not cure bronchitis, but offers medications to reduce the symptoms associated with the disease. As we’ve mentioned, these can include antibiotics like amoxicillin, clarithromycin, and doxycycline – all of which are usually ineffective since bronchitis is a viral infection in 90% of cases.
You will notice that not one of the drugs offered as treatment for bronchitis addresses the six underlying causes of the illness. More than 100 million Americans, and countless people around the world suffer from this disease, seek help from their doctors and get a palliative drug at best, and a damaging one at worst.
There are hundreds of prescription drugs offered, and over-the-counter medications are similar in number. Many of the prescription medications are also corticosteroid hormone based, which can cause serious side effects ranging from:
- Increased risk of infections
- High blood sugar (an acute danger for those who are diabetic)
- Thinning bones
- Suppressed adrenal hormones
- Fluid retention
- Weight gain
- Mood and psychological problems
Over-the-counter drugs used for suppressing a cough (antitussive drugs) or relieving congestion also have their dangers. These include:
- Decongestants that narrow blood vessels (can cause stroke or heart attack)
- Cough syrups that put you to sleep but don’t heal the underlying condition. These can also be addictive.
These medications can cause:
- Shortness of breath
Natural Cures for Bronchitis
There are many natural cures (including natural anti-virals) that can help to clear up a bronchitis episode without causing side effects. These methods also aim to correct the root cause and eliminate the viral pathogen which causes bronchitis.
There are many herbal remedies that can help acute cases of bronchitis. They will at least help break up congestion and lessen a cough. Long-term remedies for bronchitis; however, include boosting your immune system, and dealing with emotional trauma which may be contributing to your illness. (Bronchitis is most often associated with unresolved grief). In Chinese Traditional Medicine this will be described as stagnant energy in the lung meridians.
Certain herbs offer a soothing effect to inflamed mucus membranes of the respiratory tract. Try:
- Licorice root
- Mullein (a flowering plant)
- Wild cherry tree bark
- Bromelain, pineapple enzyme
- Ginger root
- Lemon and honey tea
Most health food stores carry these herbs in multiple formulations including liquid extracts, powders, and teas. You can also eat the foods themselves.
Naturally powerful anti-viral herbs which can help attack the pathogen that causes bronchitis include:
- Cat’s claw
- Dried oregano leaf
- Prickly ash bark
- Oil of oregano (must be added to a carrier oil for topical use) or add one to five drops to a glass of water for internal use
- Oregon grape
- John’s Wort
- Cinnamon stick
- Marshmallow root
- Dried lemon balm leaf
- Uva Ursi (shouldn’t be used for longer than two weeks because of its strength)
- Green tea
Many lifestyle changes can be implemented to boost the body’s overall immunity, and make it less likely to succumb to pathogens that cause bronchitis. These may include:
- Get help to quit smoking. Some people experience bronchitis even after quitting smoking, but this is usually from residual damage to the lungs and clears over time.
- Remove yourself from places with second-hand smoke (restaurants, bars, etc.)
- Take a warm, steamy shower to break up congestion in your chest and lungs.
- Place your head over a bowl of hot, steamy water which contains turmeric and garlic. Place a towel over your head and breath the steam in deeply. This will help to clear your nasal passages and the congestion in your lungs.
- Drink more water. Water helps us to purge pathogens from the body more quickly, and boosts immunity. As an added, positive side-effect water helps the digestive system, which also improves your overall immunity.
- Get rid of airborne pollutants such as smog, smoke, dust, pollen, chemical fumes, and air pollution. Often indoor air quality is even worse than outdoor air quality. The use of a high-quality air purifier can help tremendously. For those who live in highly congested areas with heavy air pollution, it is suggested that they minimize time outdoors.
- To reduce your contribution to air pollution you can also minimize your car trips (bundling errands into one trip, for example) and make sure your tires are properly inflated so that you can increase your gas mileage. Minimize the use of toxic, chemical products like paints or personal care products. And use alternate forms of energy that are non-polluting.
- Include more immune-boosting fruits and vegetables in your diet.
- Add more probiotics and prebiotics to boost gut health and immunity.
- Add more Omega 3 fatty acids to your diet to boost immunity.
- Reduce food allergens like gluten, or milk.
- Get more exercise. It lowers stress, increases lung capacity, and boosts your immune system.
- Get more sleep. The body does lots of repair and clean-up while you are sleeping. It cannot “clean house” while you’re awake. Sometimes a few days of getting 9 hours of sleep will help your body reset itself.
- Reduce stress – it has a direct effect on your immunity. Try meditation, yoga, spending time in (clean air) and nature, and deep breathing exercises for starters. Just laughing with friends and slowing down can help, too.
- Wash your hands often to reduce viral and bacterial risk.
Chinese Traditional Medicine for Bronchitis
Chinese Traditional Medicine (TCM) views bronchitis as an overabundance of heat in the lungs (usually caused by the pathogens we have described above.) However, it is also considered to be a secondary product of weakened immunity due to lung-large intestine qi deficiency.
The most common prescription by TCM for those suffering from bronchitis is cupping, a practice that helps to loosen constriction in the chest and free-up the lungs. This is usually followed by a round of Chinese herbs to help get rid of the virus causing the problem, so that the cough will lessen.
For those who suffer from the condition frequently, the lung, stomach, and kidneys are supported with herbal treatments, acupuncture, moxibustion, and lifestyle change advice. The cessation of smoking for example, and the addition of immune-boosting exercise and diet changes are strongly encouraged.
No matter which method or combination of methods you try to alleviate your bronchitis, know that improving your overall immunity is the best bet to making sure this disease doesn’t become chronic.