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Bronchitis

How Can Bronchitis Be Prevented?

Last modified: 
20/03/2012 - 17:06

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

The easiest and most effective way to prevent bronchitis is to never smoke. If you do, quitting smoking at or, preferably, before the early signs of trouble can help keep damage to a minimum.

For those who work in certain environments, use of respiratory protection devices such as respirators or filter masks can help prevent the disease. In some cases, it may be necessary for a person to find other employment.

What Happens If I Get Another Respiratory Disease Along With My Bronchitis?

Because of the damage to the lungs, those with chronic bronchitis may more easily get other diseases along with their bronchitis. They may also be more sensitive to other irritating things such as dusts, chemicals, or allergies. When one of these causes a sudden increase or worsening of symptoms, the doctors call this an acute exacerbation of chronic bronchitis (AECB).

The symptoms of AECB include:

  • An increased severity of cough
  • Increased phlegm production
  • Greenish or yellow colored sputum
  • Chest congestion and discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Feeling of illness (malaise)
  • Wheezing (which indicates a co-existing asthmatic tendency)

A wide variety of triggers can be responsible for the development of AECB. Bacterial infection, viral infection, allergy, and noninfectious irritants, including cigarette smoke, are common causes. When AECB is caused by a bacterial infection, slightly blood-streaked sputum is rarely seen. In addition, the person may have weakness, fever, and chills.

Many people with chronic bronchitis also have asthma. Although these are separate and distinct diseases, they do overlap and can produce symptoms of AECB.

For more information about asthma, go to Asthma.

AECB can be treated with:

  • Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or aspirin for fever or general aches and pains; be sure that package directions are followed as overdosing may lead to serious liver problems.
  • Antibiotics for bacterial infections
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Bronchitis

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From Andrew Maynard - Chair of the University of Michigan Department of Environmental Health Sciences, with help from David Faulkner - 2013 Master of Public Health graduate.