One of the most characteristic symptoms is coughing, although it can also cause difficulty breathing. We explain how it should be treated and which medicinal plants help
Bronchitis is an inflammation that occurs in the bronchi, tubes of the respiratory system that allow air to be transported to the lungs. It is divided into acute and chronic. Cough is the most characteristic symptom. We explain how bronchitis is treated and the natural remedies that we can use to alleviate the discomfort it causes.
Acute bronchitis is a type of disease that is almost always caused by viral infections (although in some cases it can be a bacterial infection), while chronic bronchitis is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that is usually caused by tobacco use, although other factors such as environmental or industrial pollution may contribute to the disease.
What are the symptoms?
Regardless of whether bronchitis is acute or chronic, the most characteristic symptom is a cough. In the case of acute bronchitis, the cough is usually productive (with phlegm) and may be accompanied by fever as a result of the infection, wheezing (sounds in the chest when breathing), feeling short of breath or difficulty breathing, and fatigue.
In chronic bronchitis, the cough is also usually productive and wheezing and a feeling of shortness of breath and chest discomfort also occur. Although in this case there is no fever, chronic bronchitis increases the risk of respiratory infections.
How is bronchitis treated?
Avoiding tobacco use and drinking an adequate amount of fluids are the most important measures to take into account when managing bronchitis.
Since acute bronchitis is usually caused by viruses, in most cases the use of antibiotics is not required. In uncomplicated cases, treatment is symptomatic, so analgesics such as paracetamol or mucolytics such as acetylcysteine, along with frequent fluid intake and rest can alleviate discomfort. In more severe cases, it may be necessary to use inhalers that reduce airway inflammation or increase airflow (with anti-inflammatory corticosteroids such as fluticasone or bronchial dilators such as salbutamol). It is recommended to use humidifiers and not to smoke because tobacco smoke irritates the respiratory tract.
In the case of chronic bronchitis, the first recommendation is to avoid exposure to the causative agent, usually tobacco smoke. In general, the usual treatment consists of the use of bronchodilator inhalers combined with anti-inflammatory corticosteroids. Mucolytics such as acetylcysteine and adequate fluid intake may help when phlegm is present. In severe or advanced cases, oxygen therapy is required. Physical exercise is recommended, which will help strengthen the respiratory muscles and improve the ability to breathe. Vaccination against influenza and against COVID-19 is also recommended.
When the cough is productive, cough suppressants (such as codeine or dextromethorphan) should generally be avoided because they prevent expectoration.
What are the possible complications?
Acute bronchitis usually resolves without complications in one to two weeks.
Chronic bronchitis can progress over time, increasing the frequency of respiratory infections and difficulty breathing.
Can the symptoms be relieved naturally?
Some of the symptoms can be alleviated with natural compounds that can help improve clearance of excess mucus, if any, as well as soothe the throat. These are some of the medicinal plants that help:
For irritation caused by coughing: plants such as ivy (Hedera helix) due to their expectorant activity or marshmallow (Althaea officinalis), used in syrup or in sweets to suck, relieve throat discomfort and, although by themselves they do not They are antitussive, they can improve cough if it is related to throat irritation.
Propolis candies or a spray applied directly to the throat can also help soothe irritation.
Inhaling eucalyptus, menthol, pine, or camphor extracts or applying them as an ointment to the chest or side of the nose can help relieve nasal congestion and make you breathe easier. Such products should not be used in young children and it is recommended that bronchitis be evaluated by a doctor.