Bronchitis is a disease that affects the respiratory system, ie the airways that travel the mouth, nose, throat and lungs and allow us to breathe. Although it is not generally considered a lethal pathology, it can create discomfort and lead to a bad productive cough. Fortunately, there are several strategies to be put in place to prevent it or at least to recognize its symptoms, so that it can be treated promptly.
Avoid the Contagion
1) Stay away from people who have contagious diseases.
This seems like an obvious suggestion, but you can be surprised at how difficult it actually is to do it; from work colleagues who have a cold to the children of friends with the flu, you are constantly in contact with people who can infect you. When you know that someone is sick, you should avoid getting too close; if instead, you can not do without it, wash your hands well when they go away and do not share any objects with them.
2) Maintain proper personal hygiene.
This means mainly washing your hands every time you come into contact with someone who could transmit the disease; use warm water and soap for proper cleaning. Here are the occasions when you should wash them:
-When you go to the bathroom.
-When travelling on public transport.
-When you approach sick people.
-When handling raw meat.
-When you sneeze or a cough.
3) Use a hand sanitizer if you can not reach a sink.
Some workplaces, such as hospitals or doctors’ offices, have sinks available to make it easy and always possible to wash their hands. However, if this is not the case with your workplace (or during your day), you can alternatively always carry a small package of alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you; you can use it every time you touch surfaces shared by many people or when you are close to someone with a cold or flu.
You must also avoid touching your face, especially if your hands are not clean.
Making Lifestyle Changes
4) Stop smoking.
Some studies have found that smokers or people exposed to a lot of passive smoking are more likely to develop chronic bronchitis. For this reason, it is important to stop or do not export to passive smoking, if you are afraid of getting sick; substances in cigarettes cause inflammation of the respiratory tract and you are much more vulnerable to viral or bacterial infections.
Smoking can lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which makes the patient more prone to infections such as bronchitis.
5) Limit exposure to substances that may irritate the lungs.
Dust and other particles or chemicals, such as bleach, asbestos, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, remain in suspension in the air and may irritate the walls of the throat and respiratory tract. When the respiratory system becomes irritated, it starts to become inflamed, greatly increasing the chances of developing bronchitis. If you need to export a lot of particulate matter for your work, you have to wear a mask to cover your mouth and nose, so you do not breathe it all day.
You must also always take a shower after work, to eliminate all traces of harmful particles accumulated during the day and avoid filling the house or bed when you return.
Prolonged exposure to irritants can cause serious diseases, including silicosis and asbestosis.
6) Follow a diet aimed at strengthening the immune system.
In particular, it has been found that vitamin C and zinc are able to make it stronger effectively. If you fear that your defences are weakened and you are afraid of developing bronchitis because of this, increase the intake of foods rich in these precious elements.
Vitamin C rich foods are lemons, grapefruits, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, kiwis, oranges, limes, pineapples, Brussels sprouts, spinach, onion, garlic and radishes.
Those with a high zinc content are spinach, mushrooms, beef, lamb and pork.
7) Take more precautions if you have any autoimmune disease. If your immune system is compromised, your body is at greater risk of getting viral or bacterial infections and getting sick (since the immune system is not able to defend it). If you suffer from some autoimmune disorder you have to take all possible precautions to avoid getting sick with bronchitis, because in this case, it would be more difficult to get rid of it.
Among the autoimmune diseases, there are strong allergies, asthma, lupus, type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
To strengthen the immune system, consider taking multivitamin supplements, reducing daily stress, getting enough sleep, exercising at least four days a week and regularly undergoing vaccinations. If you want more information on how to strengthen your immune system, read this article.
8) Take the flu shot every season.
The period of influences, which usually falls in the autumn and winter months, is the time when it is easier to contract bronchitis; for this reason, it is a good idea to take the flu shot to reduce the risk of getting sick and develop this inflammation.
The vaccine is recommended for all individuals over six months of age.
Standard vaccines are made with eggs; if you have an allergy to this food, talk to your doctor before giving the injection.
9) Make sure your child receives all the vaccines that are recommended.
In addition to the annual flu one, it is particularly important that all your children (if you have more than one) perform all the appropriate vaccinations on time. Routine programming is planned for vaccines of children and infants, which allows long-term immune to various potentially serious infections, some of which can lead to bronchitis.
Contact your family doctor or paediatrician if you have any doubts about the vaccination program to which the child was referred.
Check the Symptoms
10) Pay attention to the symptoms of acute bronchitis.
This form of bronchitis usually develops in cases of infection of the upper respiratory tract, such as a cold or flu; in general, fever (38-39 ° C) occurs and you may feel all your muscles sore.
During the first 2-3 days of malaise, you may have a dry cough (which does not produce phlegm), accompanied by a slight burning sensation in the chest, as if you were suffering from stomach acid.
In the next 5-6 days, you can start suffering from a productive cough (when you a cough, you expel phlegm); the symptoms then start to fade.
11) Know that there are two main forms of bronchitis, acute and chronic.
The acute one is the most common and least alarming; usually, it is caused by a viral or bacterial infection that takes its course and then disappears. You can get rid of it by managing the cough that develops or, in severe cases, with antimicrobial treatments.
Otherwise, chronic bronchitis is more persistent and difficult to overcome; in this case, it is easy to recognize it thanks to a fat cough that lasts more than three months and which is accompanied by a considerable production of mucus, which you have to expel with a cough or spitting. This form of bronchitis can lead to other serious respiratory diseases, so it is important to cure it promptly.
Contact your doctor if you have a persistent cough or are worried about having chronic bronchitis.
Patients affected by cystic fibrosis are more prone to recurrent bronchial infections, leading to developing a disease called bronchiectasis.
12) Know when it is advisable to seek medical treatment.
If you experience any of the following signs or symptoms, you should immediately go to the family doctor. If you can not make yourself visit the same day, you have to go to the emergency room; the sooner the disease is diagnosed and treated, the better.
A cough with thick mucus or with traces of blood.
Shortness of breath that leads to difficulty breathing.
Fever over 38 ° C.
Make an appointment with your doctor even if you have repeated episodes of bronchitis or have a persistent cough that does not disappear after three weeks.
Bronchitis can be caused by a bacterial or viral infection. Treatment depends on the type of illness that has affected you; for example, if it is of a bacterial nature it can be cured with antibiotics, while if it is of viral origin it does not respond to this type of drugs.