Natural Health Nexis
This nhn Bronchitis Guide includes information about Acute Bronchitis, Chronic Bronchitis, Asthmatic Bronchitis, and Chronic Asthmatic Bronchitis that is written primarily to help Bronchitis Patients better understand their condition and the range of Bronchitis treatment options that are currently available:
Short-term irritation of the respiratory tract leads to inflammation and increased mucus production associated with Acute Bronchitis and Asthmatic Bronchitis. Long-term irritation leads to structural changes causing irreversible damage associated with Chronic Bronchitis and Chronic Asthmatic Bronchitis:
In the case of Acute Bronchitis, a respiratory tract infection (usually viral) triggers acute inflammation of the bronchial wall - causing Edema of the Bronchus and increased Mucus / Sputum / Phlegm production. As the infection spreads, this eventually leads to a productive cough resulting from infection of the lower respiratory tract.
According to the Mayo Clinic, patients may also experience a secondary bacterial infection, although this is not common.
In most patients, the viral infection usually clears within a few days. However, repair of the bronchial wall typically takes much longer, so that patients often continue to cough for several weeks after. This is termed Post-Bronchitis Syndrome.
According to the British Medical Journal:
Predisposing Factors such as Smoking, Elderly Immobilization, Long-Term Illness, and Immune Deficiencies or Disorders, increase the likelihood of a patient contracting Acute Bronchitis
Asthma Patients exhibit immune responses to substances that are usually considered harmless. This sensitivity to inhaled airborne particles is a predisposing factor that increases their risk of contracting Acute Bronchitis.
When an Asthma Patient contracts Acute Bronchitis, the condition is referred to as Asthmatic Bronchitis. The pathophysiology of Asthmatic Bronchitis and Acute Bronchitis are therefore essentially identical. See Acute Bronchitis Pathophysiology above.
Predisposing Factors such as Smoking, Dusty or other Unhealthy Environments, or Malnutrition, increase the likelihood of a person contracting Acute Bronchitis, which is a short-term inflammation of the airways that is fully recoverable.
Long-term exposure to irritants can result in permanent damage to the airways, which is referred to as Chronic Bronchitis. This continuing irritation causes ongoing inflammation of the airway walls ,which leads to structural changes, including Hyperplasia (increased number) and Hypertrophy (increased size) of cells and mucus glands, accompanied by Fibrosis (development of scar tissue), and consequential thickening of the airway walls.
With sustained exposure, progression of the disease is accompanied by further squamous metaplasia and fibrosis, which, combined with excessive mucus production, leads to even greater restriction of airflow.
Asthma patients are predisposed to a higher risk of contracting Chronic Bronchitis, and such occurrence of the disease is termed Chronic Asthmatic Bronchitis.
The Pathophysiology of Chronic Asthmatic Bronchitis is essentially the same as the Pathophysiology of Chronic Bronchitis
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