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Bronchitis – Causes & Natural Remedies To Help

Bronchitis - Causes & Natural Remedies To Help

Greetings friends. Today I am going to take a look at Bronchitis for you. This is a condition I see regularly each cold and flu season and is generally the result of post viral infection with a cold or flu virus. Bronchitis is one of the top 10 conditions for which people seek medical or health care. It’s an irritating and uncomfortable ailment that leaves you coughing for weeks, sometimes months and comes with plenty of mucus. Although many Allopathic physicians treat bronchitis with antibiotics, a majority of cases are caused by viruses and antibiotics are completely ineffective. Try using some safe and natural remedies. They can help to reduce swelling in the bronchial tubes and relieve your sometimes painful cough.

What is Bronchitis?

Bronchitis is the inflammation of the bronchial tubes which are the tubes that carry air to your lungs. Bronchitis causes you to cough persistently, sometimes making it hard to breathe. The coughing may even lead to chest pain and wheezing in more severe cases. Bronchitis is also known as a chest cold because it usually occurs after you’ve already experienced symptoms of the common cold. About 5 percent of adults self-report an episode of acute bronchitis each year. Up to 90 percent of them seek medical advice. In fact, bronchitis is the fifth most common reason why adults see their general practitioner.

Signs & Symptoms of Bronchitis

The main symptom of acute bronchitis is a persistent, hacking cough. This cough lasts until your bronchial tubes heal and the swelling and inflammation goes down. The cough lasts for less than 3 weeks in 50 percent of patients. But for 25 percent of patients it may last more than one month. Because bronchitis usually develops after you’ve already had a cold or flu, you may also experience typical cold and flu symptoms, such as:

  • sore throat
  • fatigue
  • stuffy or runny nose
  • fever
  • body aches
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea

When you cough, you may produce a clear mucus, or slimy substance; if the mucus is a yellow or green color, that’s a sign that you have a bacterial infection as well. Other symptoms of acute bronchitis include wheezing (a whistling or squeaky sound when you breathe), chest tightness or pain, lower fever and maybe even shortness of breath, especially during physical activity or exertion. People suffering with chronic bronchitis most commonly experience coughing (often called a smoker’s cough) with large amounts of fluid, wheezing and chest discomfort.

Bronchitis Causes & Risk Factors

Bronchitis is commonly broken down into 2 classifications; Acute Bronchitis and Chronic Bronchitis. The same viruses that give you a cold or the flu often cause bronchitis as well. Sometimes bacteria are the cause. Research suggests that 85 to 95 percent of cases of acute bronchitis are caused by viruses, the most common being rhinovirus, adenovirus, influenza A and B, and parainfluenza. When bacteria is the cause of bronchitis, it is usually in people with underlying health problems or weakened immune systems that allow the bacteria to proliferate. In both cases, your body tries to fight off the germs and, as a result, your bronchial tubes swell and make more mucus, which causes smaller openings for air to flow and makes it harder to breathe. People with a weaker immune system, such as elderly people, infants and young children, are at a higher risk of developing acute bronchitis than people in other age groups. Chronic bronchitis occurs more often in people older than 45, but it can develop at any age. Many adults who develop chronic bronchitis are smokers or live with a smoker. A study published in Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine indicates that over 40 percent of smokers will develop chronic bronchitis in their lifetime. Researchers found that smokers may reduce their risk of developing COPD symptoms with physical activity and increase their survival by smoking reduction. Women are also more at risk of developing chronic bronchitis; in fact, women are more than twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with chronic bronchitis. Other factors, such as contact with dust, chemical fumes and vapors from certain jobs or environments also increase your risk for bronchitis. This includes jobs in coal mining, grain handling, livestock farming and textile manufacturing. Some people may develop bronchitis because of a reaction to allergies or food intolerances as well. In these cases the bronchitis is generally more chronic and further testing is needed to ascertain the allergen/s responsible and then these can be eliminated.

Natural Remedies For Bronchitis

Lifestyle Changes to Help Reduce Bronchitis

  • Anti-inflammatory and Probiotic-Rich Diet – Anytime you are trying to fight an infection, whether it’s viral or bacterial, you should focus on eating anti-inflammatory foods that will help to strengthen your immune system and reduce internal swelling. Eat plenty of raw fruits and vegetables, which will provide important vitamins and minerals and won’t produce mucus. Bone broth is another healing food that will supply essential vitamins and minerals, helping you to get well quickly. It’s also helpful to eat probiotic-rich foods because they boost immune function and replenish the healthy bacteria in your gut, which is necessary if you are on antibiotics. Some excellent options include kefir, cultured vegetables (like sauerkraut and kimchi), kombucha, coconut kefir and cultured yogurt. Professional clinical strength probiotics may also be prescribed by your natural health practitioner. There are also some foods that you should avoid because they are mucus-producing, including conventional dairy, sugar and fried foods.
  • Stay Hydrated – Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will help to thin the mucus in your bronchial tubes, reducing your cough and making it easier to breathe. Drink a glass of water about every 2 hours.
  • Use a Humidifier – A humidifier can help to loosen mucus and relieve wheezing and limited air flow. A 2014 study published in Value in Health suggests that humidification therapy is cost-effective and effective for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Use one in your bedroom throughout the night until your bronchitis symptoms have cleared.
  • Quit Smoking – I still can not believe that people smoke nowadays but for those that still do this is the most important step you can take to reduce your chances of developing bronchitis is to quit smoking or don’t start smoking. Multiple studies have found that the risk of chronic bronchitis is significantly higher in current smokers than in people who have never smoked. However, research also shows that approximately 5 years after quitting, chronic bronchitis risk in past smokers approached that in non-smokers. If you do smoke, talk to your natural health professional about programs and products that can help you quit. It’s also important to try to avoid secondhand smoke and other lung irritants, such as dust, vapors, fumes and air pollution.
  • Try Pursed-Lips Breathing – People with chronic bronchitis may find it hard to breathe due to restricted air flow in the bronchial tubes. A breathing technique called pursed-lips breathing may be helpful. According to the COPD Foundation, pursed-lips breathing helps to slow your breathing down, keep your airways open longer so that your lungs can get rid of more stale, trapped air, reduce the work of breathing and improve the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. Pursed-lips breathing may also increase the amount of time you can exercise or perform an activity, which can normally be difficult for people with chronic bronchitis.
    To do purse-lips breathing, breathe in through your nose for about 2 seconds, pucker your lips like you’re getting ready to blow out a candle and then breathe out very slowly through pursed-lips, 2 to 3 times as long as your breathed in (about 4 seconds).

Nutritional Supplements To Help With Bronchitis

  • N-acetylcysteine (NAC) – This is a very versatile and widely used supplement in my clinical practice and is a go to for both cold and flu prevention and subsequent therapy if a person becomes infected. N-acetlycysteine helps to decrease the severity and frequency of coughing attacks and improves overall lung function by increasing glutathione levels and thinning bronchial mucus. Supplementing with NAC will help to thin your phlegm so that it’s easier to expectorate. A 2015 study shows that a dose of 1,200 milligrams per day can be used to prevent exacerbations for patients with chronic bronchitis, and when the patient does not have airway obstruction, a regular treatment of 600 milligrams per day is sufficient.
  • Echinacea – Many of echinacea’s chemical constituents are powerful immune stimulators and provide significant therapeutic value. Many studies show that echinacea has the ability to fight the common cold with its antiviral properties, cutting the chances of catching a cold by 58 percent. It also helps to reduce cold symptoms, which are also common complaints by people suffering from bronchitis. Instead of using over-the-counter medications to relieve pain associated with bronchitis, you can use echinacea to ease a sore throat or headache instead.
  • Vitamin C – Vitamin C helps to boost your immune system and it decreases the severity and duration of colds and other respiratory issues caused by viruses. You can take 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C per day to fight off oncoming cold symptoms, or take 4,000 milligrams per day to get rid of a cold that is already in your system. Because bronchitis usually starts out as the common cold, use vitamin C to address the issue before it becomes a bigger problem. You can also add vitamin C foods to your diet, which includes oranges, kale, kiwi, strawberries, grapefruit, red peppers, green peppers, guava, Camu Camu and broccoli. It is a good idea to use a Vitamin C supplement that includes zinc and other co-factors to optimize absorption and proper utilization within your body.
  • Astragalus – Astragalus root is one of the most powerful immune-building plants on the planet. It helps to strengthen weak lungs and increase the body’s ability to fight infections; however, it is not recommended with a fever. Although the full extent of the herb’s capabilities are yet to be determined by modern science, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that astragalus can be used as an adjunct therapy for boosting the immune system and fighting conditions like bronchitis and has a long history of use in Oriental medicine for constitution rebuilding and use as an adaptogenic herb.
  • Ginseng – Ginseng is an herbal supplement that can help to improve lung function, which is why it’s commonly used to treat respiratory conditions like asthma. It has the power to decrease lung bacteria and treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It also reduces inflammation and boosts immune function. It is a powerful adaptogenic herb also and is most useful for rebuilding the constitution and stamina.

Essential Oils To Help With Bronchitis

  • Eucalyptus Oil – Eucalyptus oil can be very helpful for people with bronchitis. The main constituent of eucalyptus, cineole, can reduce exacerbation and shortness of breath, while improving lung function. Research also suggests that cineole is an active controller and reducer of airway inflammation. You can make a steam bath with eucalyptus oil. Pour a cup of boiling water into a bowl and mixing in 5 – 10 drops of oil. Then place a towel over your head as you lean over the bowl and inhale deeply for 5-10 minutes. You can also apply 2-3 drops of eucalyptus oil and equal parts coconut oil directly to the chest as a vapor rub.
  • Peppermint Oil – Peppermint oil gives a cooling sensation and has a calming effect on the body. It also has antimicrobial properties and the power to clear the respiratory tract. To relieve bronchitis symptoms, inhale peppermint oil directly from the bottle. This will help to unclog your sinuses and ease your sore throat. You can also apply 2-3 drops of peppermint oil to the chest with a warm compress.
  • Oregano Oil – Oregano oil acts as a natural antibacterial agent and it supports bronchial health. It serves as a natural antibiotic, without the harmful side effects. Oregano oil also has the power to treat viral conditions, reduce inflammation and relieve bronchitis symptoms that are caused by allergies. To use oregano oil as a natural antibiotic, take 1-2 drops with equal parts coconut oil internally for no longer than two weeks at a time.
See your doctor if your bronchitis symptoms last longer than 3 weeks without improvement or if your cough brings up blood or mucus that is thicker and darker. This may be indicative of a more serious problem that requires a stronger intervention.

I hope this has helped you to understand what Bronchitis is and how it is caused so that you can hopefully avoid it in the future. Until next time, be well naturally.

Craig Hitchens – Natural Health Practitioner & Remedial Therapist

 

Changing Habits Immune Boost Pack

 

 

Sources:

www.healthdirect.gov.au/bronchitis
www.lungfoundation.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Acute-Bronchitis-Sept-2014.pdf
www.draxe.com/bronchitis-natural-remedies/

 

 

Alternative & Natural Health Disclaimer:

The information contained in this article is accurate at the time of posting but may change thereafter. The information provided on the various natural health subjects from this website of www.craighitchenstherapies.com is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as any form of medical advice. The information in the article this disclaimer is linked from is not meant to treat, diagnose, prescribe or cure any ailment. Always check with your health professional before taking any products or following any advice that you believe may conflict with other forms of health care. Always consult your health care professional before you start, stop or change anything that has been previously prescribed. Certain herbs and holistic remedies are unsuitable to take if you are pregnant or nursing and must always be cleared by your health professional before use.

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