Bronchitis is a respiratory disorder. It occurs when the mucous membrane in the bronchial passage of the lungs becomes inflamed. The inflammation is caused as the irritated membrane grows thicker and swells up. Irritation results in recurrent coughing accompanied by breathlessness and phlegm. Some people may have asthmatic bronchitis, during which the lining of the bronchial tubes swells up.
What are the types of bronchitis?
There are two forms of the condition, acute and chronic bronchitis. The acute form of the condition lasts from 1-3 weeks. This form can show hacking cough and phlegm production, which can also be accompanied by an upper respiratory infection. Usually the infection is viral in nature, however, at times it can be a bacterial infection. The mucous membrane usually returns to normal once the lung infection has been treated.
The chronic form can last anywhere from 3 months to two years in a row. It is a serious long term disorder that requires regular check-ups and treatment. Chronic bronchitis is the main form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) the other form being Emphysema. In order to determine if you have COPD, you would have to perform a breathing test suggested by a doctor. Smoking is usually the underlying cause of most COPD and chronic bronchitis cases.
Causes of Bronchitis
The causes of acute bronchitis tend to be lung infections in 90% of cases, according to WebMD. Most of the lung infections are viral in nature, as mentioned earlier. Repeated periods of acute bronchitis can cause the bronchial airways to be irritated, developing into chronic bronchitis. Some other common causes include:
- Industrial Pollution
- Coal Mining
- Grain Handlers
- Metal Molders
- Exposure to fumes and dust
- Exposure to harsh industrial chemicals
- Long-term Cigarette Smoking
Chronic bronchitis can become worse when exposed to high concentrations of sulfur dioxide and other atmospheric-pollutants.