Bronchitis: Symptoms, Causes, Epidemic Data, Types & Treatment

Diseases A-Z

Bronchitis is a very common disease most commonly caused by viral infections. This causes the mucous membranes of the trachea to swell and form more bad than usual. Most of the time, the disease goes by itself within three to four weeks. Bronchitis can occasionally lead to pneumonia. But that’s unusual.


Bronchitis: a short overlook of the disease

Bronchitis often begins as a cold with pain in the throat, fever and snuff. Within days, coughing can also be sluggish or dry and retardant. When breathing, the air comes down to the lungs. Small particles with viruses or bacteria can also follow inhalation air. Sometimes it hurts behind the sternum, especially when coughing. If it develops very badly, or if the respiratory tract reacts with cramps, it may be harder to breathe and sometimes a wheezing noise is heard. Children under two years of age who get bronchitis can have other problems.

If you drink a lot, the mucus becomes easier to cough up. In the case of dry cough, it can help cough suppressant medicine to sleep. Such cough medicine should only be used for a shorter period of time. Cough suppressant medicine may impair breathing slightly and it may play a role in impaired lung function. If you get airway cramps, airborne medications can alleviate the inconveniences. If you have high fever you can take fever-reducing medication. One should avoid lying down during the day because the lungs work better when standing or sitting. It can help keeping your head high during sleeping hours.

You should contact a healthcare center or call center if any of the following is true: It feels hard to breathe. There is a wheezing or wheezing noise. It will not get better within two to three weeks. You often get bronchitis. One should seek care directly at an emergency room for any of the following: You get high fever, chill and feel very sick. It is difficult to breathe or breathe fast and superficially.

Pneumonia is also called acute bronchitis. It is a very common disease where cough is the clearest and most common inconvenience. The respiratory tract is usually caused by a virus, and most of it goes by itself within three to four weeks.

As you breathe, the air passes through the mouth and nose, past the throats, into the pharynx and then through the trachea down to the bronchi that are the lungs of the lungs. The bronches branch like a tree in both lungs, and emit into small blisters called alveoli. In the alveoli gases are exchanged between the air and the blood. The blood gets oxygen from the air, and, in turn, emits carbon dioxide to the air you breathe out. From the lungs, the oxygen is then carried out with the blood to the body’s various organs.

Infection can spread through the air. During cold times, especially during the winter, small particles containing different contaminants can spread between humans through the air and enter the trachea. The infection can also be spread through hand contact and transferred from the fingers to the mouth, nose or eyes and into the body.

The mucous membranes defend against infection. The body has its own defense against various infectious agents in the mucous membranes of the mouth, throat and respiratory tract. When particles with infections stick to the mucosa, they are attacked by cells from the immune system. However, if the immune system is unable to stop infection, viruses and bacteria can multiply and an infection is formed. Signs of infection are that the mucosa becomes swollen, and sometimes also forms more bad. Then you often cough. The airway defenses can be weakened by various environmental factors. The most important harmful factor is tobacco smoke.

Bronchitis causes

Bronchitis causes

The most common cause of respiratory tract infection is viral infections. There are a large number of viruses that can cause respiratory infections. Some viruses also cause epidemics, especially influenza viruses. In small children, so-called RS virus causes epidemics annually.

Bacteria can also lie behind trachea in the air. It is the same bacteria that can cause pneumonia. Pneumococcal bacteria are quite common. It is usually a virus infection that started the inflammation of the trachea and made the mucous membranes sore and more susceptible to bacterial infections. Then it becomes possible for the bacteria to increase in quantity.

Sometimes it may be a sinusitis that is the source of bacteria in the trachea. Another and unusual cause is that gastric juice leaks up in the esophagus during the night. This is because the upper abdominal mouth does not close tightly because there is a so-called diaphragm cavity. If the stomach gets into the trachea, the mucous membrane is damaged by the corrosive stomach and you can have a trachea that is not caused by viruses.

Bronchitis is very common. Having one or two during one year is not uncommon. Small children are affected even more often than adults.

An active life with just a lot of exercise, and good food and sleep habits improve the body’s defense against infections. Stress, smoking and too much alcohol can instead impair the immune system. It is difficult to avoid infection during cold times, but washing your hands after contact with someone who is cold and before eating can reduce the risk of infection. One reason why infectious substances are more common in winter is that more frequent penetration of indoors and buses or other common transports. Therefore, the risk of being infected when outdoors is reduced.

Bronchitis can lead to pneumonia. The most common is that the respiratory tract cures within two to three weeks. Sometimes the cough stays for another couple of weeks, though, in terms of other symptoms, everything is good. Sometimes symptoms increase, and you get a more severe respiratory infection or pneumonia. It is more common if you smoke or have lung diseases such as COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Then you may need to take antibiotics.

Cramps in the trachea are warning signs. Sometimes respiratory tract reacts with cramps in respiratory tract, the same symptoms as in asthma. It may be a first sign that a more chronic bronchitis is being developed. You should then contact a doctor for examination. If you are a smoker then it is very important to quit smoking, not to damage the airways more.

Bronchitis Symptoms and diagnosis

Bronchitis often begins as a cold, with pain in the throat, fever, sniffing and sometimes also pain in the muscles and joints. Cough can be included from the start or come after a few days. Sometimes it hurts behind the sternum, especially when coughing. The cough can be dry and tearing, or dull with white, yellow or brown mucus. If it gets very bad or if the trachea reacts with cramps, it can be harder to breathe and you can hear a beeping noise from the trachea.

In order for the doctor to diagnose the respiratory tract, it is enough to tell about his symptoms and that the doctor makes a simple body examination. The doctor looks into the pharynx where there is often a redness and sometimes a swelling at the back. The respiratory distress from the lungs is usually normal if you have bronchitis. Sometimes there is a raging noise due to the fact that mucus has accumulated in the coarse airways. If whistling sounds are heard, they usually are caused by cramps in the trachea or mucous. You usually do not get heavy breathing or get out of breath on the account of a common bronchitis.

Symptoms and diagnosisIf you have a common bronchitis that has not lasted for a long time, you do not need to take any laboratory tests at all. If the doctor suspects that there may be a stronger infection, a blood sample called CRP is often taken. It is a fastest way to measure the degree of inflammation. CRP is usually normal or slightly elevated by a trachea. Is the CRP value high, because it is a more difficult infection.

Lung X-rays are rarely needed. If you have frequent respiratory tract cataracts, especially if you smoke and over 40 years, pulmonary x-ray may need to be done to see if there is damage to the lungs. You can also make a pulmonary X-ray if your doctor is unsure of what is the fault or if you get worse.

Acute bronchitis cases usually pass by themselves and do not require any special treatment. If the symptoms are not over or if they get worse, contact a healthcare center and be examined by a doctor.

What can you do at home?

If you drink a lot when you have a trachea, the mucus becomes easier to cough up. If you have high fever, you can take fever-reducing medication to relieve it. The lungs work better when upright than lying down. Therefore, do not lie in bed more than sleeping or for a short while resting. On the other hand, you should avoid exercising or performing physical exertional pains when you have fever and feel bad. When you feel better, short walking is good for the healing.

What can you do at home

Different types of cough medicine may feel relieving, but they do not cure the airway tubes themselves. If you have a dry cough, it may help with coughing medication, especially for the night. Such cough medicine should only be used for a shorter period of time. Cough suppressant medicine may impair breathing slightly and it may play a role in impaired lung function.

More severe infections may need to be treated. If there is evidence of a non-healing bacterial infection, you can usually get penicillin printed by a doctor. Signs of such an infection may be that you will not get better within three to four weeks, or you get stronger and more persistent disease symptoms. Examples of such are fever, generalized dementia, shortness of breath, and increasing thick mucus coughing. If you are allergic to penicillin, you will receive antibiotics of different kinds. For example, it may be antibiotics containing erythromycin or doxycycline.

In some cases you may have symptoms that your doctor estimates due to more difficult-to-treat bacteria. Then you may need treatment with antibiotics. Reasons for such infections may be that you are smokers, have a lung disease like COPD or any disease that affects the body’s immune system.

Medication that widens the airways. If you have symptoms of airway cramps, such as breathing difficulties or a wheezing noise, sometimes you may need airborne medications. They are printed by a doctor. If the disease is worsened, that is, if you get high fever, chill and hard to breathe you should seek emergency treatment at a health center or hospital. You can always call the healthcare advice.

Many relapses may be a warning. If you get tight recurrent air ventricles, it may be because you have asthma that needs treatment. It is therefore advisable to have a doctor do a proper examination if you have had many air agitators in a row.

If you are a smoker and suffer from recurring bronchitis, it is a warning that the respiratory tract is seriously damaged. Then it is important to quit smoking.

Medication that widens the airways. If you have symptoms of airway cramps, such as breathing difficulties or a wheezing noise, sometimes you may need airborne medications. They are printed by a doctor. If the disease is worsened, that is, if you get high fever, chill and hard to breathe you should seek emergency treatment at a health center or hospital. You can always call the healthcare advice.

Many relapses may be a warning. If you get tight recurrent air ventricles, it may be because you have asthma that needs treatment. It is therefore advisable to have a doctor do a proper examination if you have had many air agitators in a row.

If you are a smoker and suffer from recurring bronchitis, it is a warning that the respiratory tract is seriously damaged. Then it is important to quit smoking.

Obstructive bronchitis in children under two years

Bronchitis is the Latin word for inflammation of the lung respiratory tract; ‘obstructive’ means ‘preventive’. Respiratory tract irritation is an inflammation of the lining of the trachea within the lungs.

Obstructive bronchitis in children under two yearsThe inflammation causes the mucous membrane to swell. As the mucous membrane swells, the trachea becomes narrower and the flow of air becomes worse. This makes the child’s breathing more difficult, especially breathing out.

The child has difficulty breathing. There is a wheezing noise; the child has a lot of cough and mucus. The skin is drawn between the ribs when the child breathes so that there is a pit between the ribs. The symptoms are particularly noticeable if the child breathes fast, is worried or upset.

Bronchitis vs. asthma

Bronchitis have the same symptoms as asthma. For children younger than two years of age who are not allergic, they talk about the first and second time the child gets the trouble. The third time is diagnosed with asthma. If the child is allergic or is over two years, the doctor usually calls it asthma for the first time as the child experiences symptoms.

When even the smallest trachea becomes inflamed, it is called bronchitis. It gives the same symptoms as catarrh. Bronchitis is often more difficult than airborne catarrh, as a major part of the respiratory tract is inflamed. It is mainly children up to a year who receive bronchiolitis. The disease usually occurs in the winter.

Seek care directly at a childcare center, emergency center or emergency department if the child experiences respiratory distress. Contact a healthcare center or childcare center if the symptoms are not noticeable, but remain for a long time.

You can seek care at any health center you want throughout the country. There you also have the opportunity to have a permanent doctor’s contact for the child. This means that you can meet the same doctor whenever possible.

Usually it is a viral infection that causes bronchitis. The virus that is usually the cause of the infection is RS virus, which causes epidemics every winter. RS virus and other respiratory viruses are spread when sneezing, coughing and cheating. Virus is then spread through the air and through contact, especially via hands. An inflammation of the respiratory tract may also be due to something that the child has breathed, such as a smoke that retards the mucous membrane.

It’s good if you as an adult make the child drink a lot. Liquids help the body to dissolve the mucus. This will make it easier for the child to cough it up. It is important that the baby coughs up badly to clear the trachea when coughing. Therefore, it is not good to give medication to suppress the cough. Then the child coughs less and does not get up the mucus. Talk to a doctor before giving non-prescription medicines to children under two years or to children with asthma. Make sure the child is not exposed to tobacco smoke. The smoke can increase the risk of bronchitis.

A doctor can prescribe a bronchitis medication if the child needs it. The child may also receive cortisone spray to reduce inflammation, and thus swelling, in the respiratory tract. Sometimes children may need to be cared for at the hospital for air rheumatoid arthritis. At the hospital there are three different methods that can alleviate bronchitis.

  1. The first is that the child must breathe in airborne medicine.
  2. The second is that the child is breathing in anti-inflammatory medicine.
  3. The third is that the baby gets oxygen using short hose bits in the nostrils. It’s called a ugly.
  4. Sometimes the child may need to remain in the hospital for observation.

Respiratory tract irritation is an inflammation of the lining of the trachea. The inflammation causes the air tubes to swell. Children’s trachea is narrower and softer than the adult trachea. Therefore, there is a greater risk for children to get trachea. Children up to two years have such a narrow air tube that the child may have a trachea if they get a virus infection in the nose, thus getting cold. Most children with respiratory tract get no follow-up illnesses. Some children get infected with asthma attacks, but they usually end before school age. Even children should be involved in their care. The older the child is, the more important it is.

What is acute bronchitis?

acute bronchitisBronchitis is the inflammation, acute or chronic, of the mucous membrane of the bronchial tree (a complex of ducts that allows the exchange of air between the lungs and the external environment). In acute bronchitis, the infectious processes are of great importance, while in the chronic one there are often environmental or voluntary factors such as smoking and pollution.

Often, in the acute bronchitis the inflammatory process is the result of an extension to the bronchi of infections of the upper respiratory tract (tracheo-bronchitis, laringo-tracheo-bronchitis); more rarely, non-specific factors intervene (inhalation of irritants such as strong acid fumes, ammonia and some organic solvents).

Acute infectious bronchitis is generally supported by virusis (flu virus, respiratory syncytial virus, adenovirus, etc.), which can be overlapped with bacterial infections (Haemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus Pneumoniae, Moraxella catarrhalis). Influenza viruses, in fact, destroy the cells of the respiratory mucosa, favoring the penetration and rooting of the bacteria; the consequent superinfection complicates the course of the disease, which initially gives modest symptoms (fever, muscle pain, colds, pharyngitis, dry cough) and then worsen with the general recurrence of the symptoms (appearance of fat cough associated with abundant mucous or mucopurulent catarrh, meaning of thoracic constriction and retrosternal burning).

In order to diagnose bronchitis, your doctor will require a physical examination (search for the above symptoms, auscultation with stethoscope), blood tests (neutrophilic leukocytosis, serological research of specific antibodies against certain viruses), sputum culture (search for pathogens in the phlegm) and possibly chest radiography and pulmonary ventilation test (spirometry).

Generally acute bronchitis is a self-limiting disease, which disappears within a few days; however, especially in the case of bacterial superinfection, it must be readily recognized and treated to avoid complications (if the transition to bronchial pneumonia is frequent). The therapy includes absolute rest until there is fever, generous hydration, possible administration of analgesics, antipyretics (if the fever is high) and antibiotics (if the bronchitis is sustained by a bacterial infection). In severe cases it may be necessary to resort to bronchodilator and antitussive drugs (remember that the cough, in itself, is a defense mechanism useful for expelling the mucus that clogs the respiratory tract).

What is chronic bronchitis?

We talk about chronic bronchitis in the presence of a persistent increase in bronchial secretions, with productive cough (phlegm) almost daily for at least three months a year for two consecutive years (see COPD: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Signs and symptoms include continuous coughing that produces mucus in more or less important quantities, especially in the morning, and dyspnea (difficulty breathing, lack of breath even during small efforts).

In chronic bronchitis infection, bacterial or viral, is only a complication, being far more important environmental factors, first of all smoke (including passive) and pollution, be it environmental, domestic and / or work.

Bronchitis complications: bronchospasm

Bronchospasm is an abnormal and excessive contraction of the smooth muscles that surround bronchi and bronchioles; it follows a narrowing, if not even a complete occlusion, of the respiratory tract. Those suffering from bronchospasm struggle to breathe, cough, have wheezes during breathing and complain of chest tightness. The presence of cough is linked to the increased production of mucus by the mucosa of occluded bronchi and bronchioles. The main causes of bronchospasm are asthma and bronchitis; these two morbid conditions are both inflammatory.

Often, for a definitive diagnosis, the objective examination and evaluation of the patient’s clinical history are sufficient. The therapy is pharmacological and consists of medicines for the opening of the airways (beta2-agonists and anticholinergic bronchodilators) and in anti-inflammatory drugs for the reduction of inflammation (corticosteroids).

To understand better these mechanisms, let’s have a closer look at the anatomy of bronchi and bronchioles. The bronchi represent the airways following the trachea. In adult subjects, the trachea forks at the level of the 4th-5th thoracic vertebra to give rise to the two primary (or main) bronchi, one for the right lung and one for the left lung. The primary bronchi are subdivided into smaller and smaller branches, forming what in the medical jargon is called bronchial tree. The bronchial tree consists of airways (or respiratory) outside the lungs (primary extrapulmonary bronchi) and intrapulmonary airways (secondary and tertiary bronchi, bronchioles, terminal bronchioles and respiratory bronchioles).bronchi-anatomy

Similarly to the upper airways (which are: the nasal cavities, the nasopharynx, the pharynx, the larynx and the trachea), the bronchi have the function of transporting the air coming from the external environment to the functional units of the lungs: the so-called alveoli. Surrounded by a dense network of capillaries, the alveoli are small pockets, which receive the inhaled air and allow the blood to ‘charge’ the necessary oxygen to the whole organism. It is in the alveoli, in fact, that the gaseous oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange occurs between the blood, circulating in the capillaries, and the atmospheric air, introduced with breathing.

From a histological point of view, the bronchi-bronchiole system tends to progressively change its structure as it enters more and more into the lungs: in the primary bronchi, the cartilaginous component is superior to the muscular one (there is considerable resemblance to the trachea); starting from the secondary bronchi and until just before the alveoli, the muscular component takes over and gradually replaces the cartilage one.

upper airwaysBronchospasm is the abnormal contraction of the smooth muscles of the bronchi or bronchioles, which causes a narrowing, or in particularly severe cases, complete occlusion of the airways. Narrowing or total occlusion is usually temporary, so sooner or later there is a restoration of airway patency.

An individual suffering from bronchospasm struggles to breathe, as there is an impediment to the passage of air through bronchi and / or bronchioles. However, the situation is slightly more complex than one might believe.

In fact, the narrowing or the occlusion causes the bronchial mucosa to produce large quantities of mucus

  • helps to block the incoming air in the lungs,
  • irritates the inner wall of the bronchi (or of the bronchioles) by inflaming it
  • promotes the appearance of cough (N.B: the cough is a defensive mechanism, which serves to expel this obstructive mucus).

The main causes of bronchospasm are two known and widespread inflammatory conditions of the bronchial tree: asthma and bronchitis. Asthma is a chronic morbid condition, probably a genetic one, whose symptoms are generally exacerbated after contact with allergens (e.g. pollens, food, dust, animal hair, etc.), respiratory infections, medicines (NSAIDs and beta- blockers in particular), physical exertions, excessive emotions, stress and smoking. Allergens are substances that the body recognizes and interprets as foreign and potentially dangerous, therefore deserving of an immune attack aimed at neutralizing them.


Infectious agents that can cause bronchitis and, subsequently, episodes of bronchospasm

  • Influenza viruses
  • Syncytial virus
  • Adenovirus
  • Haemophilus influenzae
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae
  • Moraxella catarrhalis
  • Bronchitis, on the other hand, may be an acute or chronic condition that arises due to respiratory infections (such as cold or flu), cigarette smoke and / or pollution (environmental, domestic or occupational). Chronic forms of bronchitis represent a morbid condition also known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

In apparently healthy individuals, episodes of bronchospasm may also be caused

  • Contact or proximity to particular substances (including pollens, dust, food, mold, animal hair, etc.), to which there is an intolerance or an allergy.
  • A physical activity intense or too high compared to the possibilities of the individual who performs it.
  • Taking certain medications, including antibiotics, NSAIDs and antihypertensives. The possibility of giving bronchospasm is generally linked to an intolerance of the patient towards the aforementioned medicines.
  • General anesthesia, practiced in the surgical field, before some very invasive interventions. In these situations, bronchospasm is a complication.

Its establishment is subsequent to the application by the doctor of the tube used to support the patient’s breathing during the operation.

Obviously all the asthmatic subjects, the bronchitic ones, the people exposed to the factors that trigger the bronchitis (infectious diseases, polluted environments, etc.) and individuals allergic to some of the substances mentioned above are obviously at risk of bronchospasm.

The symptoms and signs that characterize bronchospasm

  • Cough. The mechanism that triggers the cough has already been treated.
  • Shortness of breath and dyspnea. In people who suffer from asthma or chronic bronchitis, these breathing difficulties generally suffer worsening in the evening, early in the morning or after a physical activity.
  • Presence of wheezles during breathing. They are abnormal sounds that the patient emits during respiratory acts.
  • Thoracic oppression. It is similar to a sense of chest pressure. Sometimes, it can look like real pain.

If bronchospasm is particularly severe and not appropriately treated, breathing difficulties may take too long to cause the patient’s death by asphyxiation. The clinical manifestations that characterize the presence of severe respiratory difficulties are: dyspnea at rest, cyanosis (usually at the fingers) and the increase in heart rate.

According to doctors, it is good to contact them

  • Cough that does not mention passing
  • Rattle during breathing, which, rather than improve, get worse
  • Temperature
  • Small breathing problems

These are symptoms that require immediate medical examination

  • Cough with blood
  • Dyspnea and cyanosis in the fingers
  • Chest pain
  • The marked increase of the heartbeat

In general, the first diagnostic checks, to which the doctors recur in the presence of suspected bronchospasm, are: the objective examination and the evaluation of the clinical history. These two analyzes are, in many cases, sufficient to establish a precise final diagnosis; however, it may be essential to perform more specific instrumental tests, as these also clarify the causes that produced the episode (or episodes) of bronchospasm.

An accurate physical examination requires the doctor to visit the patient, questioning the symptomatology. The most common questions – because they are most important for a correct diagnostic analysis – are: What are the symptoms? When did the clinical manifestations appear? Is there an event in particular? Are there moments of the day or particular situations in which the symptomatology becomes more severe?

When doctors talk about clinical history they mean everything concerning the patient’s current and past health status: from the pathologies suffered previously to the current ones; from the drugs taken at the time of evaluation to those taken up until a few weeks before; from any surgical interventions to which he may have been exposed to substances to which he is allergic; etc.

In the presence of a symptomatology due to bronchospasm, it is particularly important that the patient informs the doctor about any presences of

  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Acute bronchitis
  • Chronic bronchitis (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Instrumental tests

The instrumental tests, which doctors use to reach a definitive diagnosis and investigate the triggering causes

  • Chest X-ray. Provides a fairly clear picture of the lungs and other internal chest structures. Show any signs of a lung infection. It is a painless, but minimally invasive test, as it exposes the patient to a (very low) doses of ionizing radiation.
  • Spirometry. Fast, practical and painless, the spirometry records the inspiratory and expiratory capacity of the lungs, and the patency (ie the opening) of the air passages passing through the latter.
  • TAC (computerized axial tomography). It provides very comprehensive three-dimensional images of the organs contained in the thoracic cavity. It is therefore able to show most of the anomalies that can affect the lungs (signs of infection, signs of inflammation, etc.).

It involves exposure of the patient to a non-negligible dose of ionizing radiation, so it is considered an invasive test (albeit completely painless). Under certain circumstances, to increase the quality of the images, the doctor administers a contrast medium in the patient’s bloodstream. If used, this substance increases the level of invasiveness of the examination, as it can trigger an allergic reaction (N.B: this usually occurs in predisposed subjects).

The therapy of bronchospasm consists in the administration of drugs aimed at opening the airways and reducing the inflammatory state of bronchi and bronchioles. Among the drugs used are: beta2-agonists, anticholinergic bronchodilators and inhaled corticosteroids.

Beta2-agonists are noradrenaline derivatives. These drugs are particularly indicated to alleviate the symptoms that characterize acute asthma attacks, as they are able to release the smooth muscles of bronchi and bronchioles in a very short time. Effective even when the causes are not of an asthmatic nature, the most used beta2-agonists are salbutamol, salmeterol and formoterol. Note: beta2-agonists do not reduce the inflammatory state of the bronchial tree; therefore their action is limited to the improvement of the symptomatic picture.

As you can guess from the name, the next group of drugs effective against bronchospasm is anticholinergic bronchodilators dilate the airways, acting on the bronchial muscles. The final purpose of their assumption is to allow the patient to breathe better. There are two categories of anticholinergic bronchodilators: short-lived anticholinergic bronchodilators and long-lasting bronchodilators.

The former come into action in a very short time, which makes them particularly suitable for acute episodes of bronchospasm; the latter act with longer times, which makes them suitable medicines to prevent future episodes of bronchospasm. Among the most commonly administered anticholinergic bronchodilators are ipratropium bromide and isoetarin.

like beta2-agonists, also anticholinergic bronchodilators relieve only the symptoms (they do not improve the inflammatory state that can affect bronchi and bronchioles).

Belonging to the category of steroid drugs, the third group of drugs described here, inhaled corticosteroids, reduce the inflammation of the respiratory tract. Their use allows the patient to breathe better and alleviate breathing difficulties. Like all other steroid drugs, even inhaled corticosteroids, if taken in excessive doses or for long periods of time, cause various side effects, some of them very serious. Possible side effects of steroid drugs are: hypertension, diabetes, weakening of bones or osteoporosis, glaucoma, overweight or obesity, gastric ulcers.

The prognosis depends on the causes of bronchospasm. If the triggering factors are of mild severity, even the control of bronchospasm is simpler and the risk of complications lower. If, on the other hand, the triggering factors are particularly severe, the treatment of bronchospasm is more complex (it must first of all be timely) and the risk of complications is much higher.


These are some of the most important preventive measures against the onset of bronchospasm:

  • Avoid contact with allergens that can trigger an asthma attack;
  • Warm up adequately before any physical activity of a certain size;
  • Avoid contact with people with some infectious airway disease (flu, pneumonia, etc.);
  • Protect adequately during the frequentation of polluted environments.

Bronchitis complications: bronchopneumonia


Bronchopneumonia is a particular type of pneumonia, which involves the inflammation of bronchi, bronchioles and pulmonary alveoli. At its origin there is usually a bacterial infection or a viral infection. The main bacteria responsible are: Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae (or pneumococcus), Haemophilus influenzae and Klebsiella pneumoniae. The main triggers are the human respiratory syncytial virus and influenza viruses. Bronchial pneumonia classically determines: high fever, cough with phlegm, dyspnoea, chest pain, rapid breathing and sweating. Among the possible complications, the most feared is certainly the sepsis. Treatment depends on the triggering causes. In fact, a bacterial bronchopneumonia requires a different therapy than a viral bronchopneumonia.

The lower airways form the part of the respiratory tract that begins at the level of the trachea and then includes the bronchial tree – formed by bronchi and bronchioles – and the lungs. Inside the lungs, reside small elastic sacs, called alveoli, in which the blood that reaches them is ‘charged’ with oxygen and ‘free’ of carbon dioxide (waste product of the tissues).

A group of alveoli forms the so-called pulmonary berry; a pulmonary berry (or simply berry) resides at the extremity of a pulmonary bronchiole. The pulmonary bronchioles are the last ramifications of the bronchial tree. A group of several pulmonary berries, with their respective terminal bronchioles, constitutes the smallest structure of the lungs visible to the naked eye: the pulmonary lobule.

Bronchopneumonia is a type of pneumonia almost always of infectious origin, characterized by the inflammation of bronchi, bronchioles and alveoli. In several medical texts, it also takes the name of lobular pneumonia, due to the fact that the inflammatory state affects one or more pulmonary lobules. In addition to bronchopneumonia, there are other types of infectious pneumonia. A very common type, not to be confused with lobular pneumonia, is lobar pneumonia. Lobe pneumonia generally affects one or more lung lobes, i.e. the various portions that make up the lungs.

Bronchopneumonia is generally the result of a bacterial infection or viral infection. The main bacteria that can cause bronchopneumonia are:

  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae (or pneumococcus)
  • Haemophilus influenzae
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa

As far as viruses are concerned, the viral agents that can cause bronchopneumonia are:

  • The human respiratory syncytial virus
  • Influenza A (or influenza A virus) and Influenza B (or type B influenza virus)
  • The measles virus. In this case, bronchopneumonia is a complication of measles, the trigger virus of which is a measles virus.
  • More rare forms of bronchopneumonia can arise as a result of:
  • Ingestion of foreign material or food in the bronchial tree. In these cases, bronchopneumonia also takes the name of bronchopneumonia ab ingestis.
  • Inhalation of poisonous gases.
  • Malnutrition.
  • Serious chronic diseases, such as tuberculosis.
  • Surgical interventions at the lower airway.

Bronchopneumonia affects certain categories of people more frequently. For example, subjects such as:

  • Children under the age of 2. Children are individuals particularly at risk of broncho-pneumonitis with viral origin
  • People aged 65 and over
  • Those suffering from lung diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • AIDS patients (or HIV)
  • Those who have a weakened immune system after receiving chemotherapy or immunosuppressive drugs
  • Smokers
  • Those who have a history of severe alcoholism
  • Those who have severe difficulty swallowing
  • Malnourished people

Regardless of the triggering causes, the symptoms and signs of a generic bronchopneumonia consist of:

  • Fever between 39 and 40 ° C
  • Cough with large production of phlegm
  • Shortness of breath (dyspnoea)
  • Chest pain
  • Quick breath
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Muscular pains
  • Sense of recurrent fatigue
  • Confusion or delirium (especially in older people)
  • Loss of appetite

The typical macroscopic characteristic of bronchopneumonia consists in the presence of multiple inflammatory sites, dispersed in one or both lungs (most frequent case). Please note: an inflammatory outbreak is a collection point for infectious microorganisms and inflammation cells.

From the histological point of view, bronchopneumonia involves the formation of a suppurative (or purulent) exudate, at the level of the air spaces formed by the alveoli, the bronchi and the bronchioles.

It is good to contact your doctor at the first signs of bronchial pneumonia, to avoid serious complications. It represents a medical emergency, to be treated with the utmost rapidity, a bronchial pneumonia characterized by severe chest pain, rapid breathing and confusion.

Sepsis (or septicemia). In medicine, the term sepsis indicates a serious clinical condition that arises as a result of an abnormal inflammatory response, put in place by the organism after the passage of pathogenic microorganisms into the blood. The symptoms that characterize a sepsis condition are: high fever, acceleration of heart rhythm, acceleration of breathing, hypotension, confusion, pallor, chills of cold and loss of consciousness. Pleurisy. It is the inflammation of the pleura, which is the membrane that covers the lungs and the cavities in which the lungs reside. The pleura has protective functions. Respiratory failure. Cardiovascular problems. Lung abscess.

Typically, the diagnostic pathway for the detection of a bronchopneumonia begins with a thorough physical examination and a detailed medical history. Then, it continues with a blood count (blood test) and a chest X-ray (RX-thorax). If after this series of evaluations the doctor still has doubts or has not yet fully understood the causes of bronchopneumonia, he may opt for the execution of further in-depth tests, such as:

  1. A CT scan of the thoracic organs. This survey provides three-dimensional images with more details, compared to those provided by a chest radiograph. It is a mildly invasive procedure, as it involves exposing the patient to a certain one share of X-rays harmful to human health.
  2. A cultivation analysis of the sputum, that is of the phlegm. This diagnostic test allows to identify the micro-organism responsible for the infection.
  3. A bronchoscopy. It consists in inserting, from the mouth and along the respiratory airways, an instrument provided with a camera (endoscope), with which the doctor observes the cavities of the bronchial tree. It serves to provide further details on the characteristics of bronchopneumonia.
  4. Oximetry. Simple and immediate, it is a test for measuring blood oxygen saturation. For its execution, doctors make use of an instrument, the oximeter, which they apply to a finger or ear lobe.

Low oxygen saturation indicates that breathing difficulties (dyspnoea etc.) are of a certain severity and deserve immediate care.

During the physical examination, first of all, the doctor asks the patient to describe the symptomatology felt. Then, using a phonendoscope, evaluate the respiratory capacity of the same, going in search of any difficulties or abnormal sounds (rales, stridori, etc.). Generally, the phonendoscope analysis is quite precise and allows to establish which part of the lung or the lungs is the site of inflammatory hearths.

The blood count allows to understand if the infection is bacterial or viral. In fact, the blood count of a person with a bacterial infection has a high number of granulocytes (a type of white blood cells), while the blood count of a person with a viral infection shows a high number of lymphocytes (another type of blood cell) whites).

Chest x-ray is probably the most reliable diagnostic test for the detection of bronchopneumonia. It is a minimally invasive procedure, as it involves the exposure of the patient to a small dose of X-rays.

Chest x-rayThe treatment of bronchopneumonia varies according to the triggering causes. If the origin of the pneumonia is viral, doctors generally limit themselves to recommending a complete rest period of about one or two weeks. In these situations, the prescription of antiviral drugs is rare and occurs only when the symptoms are very severe or when the disease shows no appreciable signs of improvement.

For cases of bacterial bronchopneumonia, the situation is decidedly different. Doctors, in fact, prescribe antibiotic treatment, as this is the only solution for the elimination of the infectious agent. In such circumstances, it is essential that the patient completes the scheduled cycle of antibiotic therapies; otherwise, there is a high risk that the bronchopneumonia will recur at some distance.

Regardless of the cause of bronchopneumonia, valid symptomatic remedies (ie effective against symptoms) are valid:

  • Stay complete rest
  • Drink plenty of water and hot drinks. Adequate fluid intake prevents dehydration.
  • Take paracetamol against fever
  • Severe bronchial pneumonia requires hospitalization.
  • During a hospitalization for bronchial pneumonia, doctors may have to resort to assisted ventilation and intravenous drug administration.

Generally, a bronchial pneumonia diagnosed early and treated with the right modalities has a positive prognosis. On the contrary, a bronchial pneumonia detected late or inadequately treated is at high risk of complications and may also have unpleasant consequences.

People at risk of bronchopneumonia can reduce (if not even prevent) the possibility of developing the aforementioned inflammatory condition by resorting to some vaccinations. For viral bronchopneumitis, doctors recommend annual influenza vaccination. For bacterial bronchopneumonia, instead, they recommend the pneumococcal vaccine.

Wash your hands regularly, avoid smoking, do not abuse alcohol, keep away from people suffering from pneumonia, exercise regularly, get enough sleep and eat in a balanced and healthy way: they are all easy to implement behaviors that reduce the risk of develop a form of bronchopneumonia.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *