5 Ways to Treat Your Chronic Bronchitis
A patient with chronic bronchitis must work hand in hand with his doctor to minimize symptoms, reduce pulmonary irritants and find the right combination of medications. COPD, of which chronic bronchitis is a part, has no cure, but with medication, rehabilitation and a commitment to stop smoking, a patient can work to maintain as much lung function as possible.
Bronchodilators taken through inhalers are often prescribed for patients with chronic bronchitis to help open lung passageways and ease wheezing. Inhaled steroids can also be very effective against the symptoms of chronic bronchitis, although these medications can have serious side effects that often prevent doctors from prescribing them on a long-term basis. Doctors also often prescribe oral steroids to decrease bronchial tube inflammation.
Avoidance of Irritation
The primary source of irritation for most patients with chronic bronchitis is cigarette smoke. Quitting smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke is crucial for the health of these patients. In addition, these patients should avoid pulmonary irritants such as paint fumes and may want to wear a face mask outside. While coughing is generally good for the lungs because it removes blockages and fluid, excess coughing can cause extreme irritation to the bronchial tubes, becoming a vicious cycle of coughing and irritation. If this occurs, doctors are likely to prescribe heavy-duty cough suppressants to break the cycle.
Since bronchitis is usually caused by a virus, antibiotics aren't always useful. However, if a secondary bacterial infection sets in or if a patient suffers from other chronic lung problems, physicians prescribe antibiotics to make sure further complications don't ensue. In addition, doctors typically insist that chronic bronchitis patients get flu shots.
As COPD progresses, patients often need supplemental oxygen. Some patients require oxygen constantly, and others need to only have it available for times when they have difficulty breathing. While oxygen can usually be administered at home, patients with severe breathing difficulties may have to be hospitalized.
During pulmonary rehabilitation, a respiratory therapist helps the patient learn breathing exercises to help cope with the chronic bronchitis. Rehab may also include help with quitting smoking, nutritional counseling and establishing a gentle exercise program. Part of this therapy may include tracking adequate hydration, which thins out lung secretions, and adding humidity to the home environment.
The treatment for chronic bronchitis focuses on relieving symptoms and slowing the progression of serious lung disease. Chronic bronchitis, in which the lining of the lung's bronchial tubes is continually inflamed, is most often caused by smoking, and quitting smoking is the number one thing you can do to treat the condition. The illness, along with emphysema, is part of the serious lung disease known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.