Sometimes it’s hard to find out if you suffer from a ‘normal’ cough, have become ill from a virus or have an infection. But your cough tells you more about the disease than you would expect. Bronchitis is a very unpleasant viral infection that usually occurs in winter or autumn and can keep you awake for nights. It is important to recognize the causes in time so that you can quickly get the right treatment to get rid of it. On the following pages we will tell you more about 10 alarming signs of bronchitis that you should not ignore.
What Is Bronchitis?
Before we tell more about the symptoms, we will first go deeper into what bronchitis is. The disease is a contagious viral infection spread by drops of saliva and moisture particles in the air. The virus can also be transmitted through the hands.
When you have bronchitis it is important to take rest, drink enough water and cough and sneeze in a paper tissue. Bronchitis passes with sufficient rest, but the disease can also pass into chronic bronchitis. It is therefore very important to keep an eye on the alarming signs we discuss on the following pages.
A Long-Lasting Cough
People with bronchitis often experience flu symptoms with a running nose. If those symptoms develop further, a PND (post-nasal drip) is the next stage. PND causes mucus build-up in the lungs that obstructs the airways. After this you might develop an itchy feeling in the back of the throat. Within 48 hours the symptoms and cough can get worse. In the stage of wheezing and coughing up mucus, it is vital to seek medical help.
In case of a bronchitis infection, mucus will be coughed up in almost every case. However, if the cough does not decrease to a dry cough after 48 to 72 hours, the disease can progress into a chronic stage. The cough will become even more intense and the mucus may block the respiratory tract. Typically, phlegm is coughed up. This is saliva that is transparent in color. But in case of a chronic infection the mucus can turn yellow or dark green. It is very wise to seek medical help if you notice a difference in color.
Extreme Chest Pain
As the disease progresses and the cough symptoms increase, infected individuals may experience mild chest pain. The pain is characterized by a dull pain or a pain that can be felt from the chest outward. Muscle pain due to the frequent coughing is also a common sign of bronchitis. However, be careful when you experience internal, raw pain in the lungs. In case of severe pain and coughing up blood, it is very wise to see a specialist because this can damage the chest or bronchioles.
A Sore Throat
With a bronchitis infection, most people will experience an itchy feeling in the back of their throat. This symptom can be experienced in a range from mild to intense. Eventually, the throat may feel raw from all the coughing. Swallowing and speaking will become more difficult. In case of persistent throat irritation, it is wise to seek help from a medical specialist to soothe the sore throat. If you do not do this, the recovery may become more difficult, which can lead to chronic bronchitis.
Fever & Body Aches
It often happens that infected persons experience a slight fever. This is often accompanied by body aches and pains. An infection signals the white blood cells to attack the virus and this results in pain. However, it is important to seek medical help in case of a fever higher than 100 F. This is a sign of a serious infection or chronic bronchitis.
An infected person often coughs up mucus and this can be accompanied by a slight wheezing sound when breathing in or out. The wheezing sound sounds a bit like rattling or whistling. When the infection is gone, this squeaking sound will disappear as well. However, when this persists it indicates breathing difficulties. Always seek medical advice if this is the case. A chest X-ray can be taken to determine the damage.
Shortness of Breath
Shortness of breath occurs in the advanced stages of bronchitis. This causes a lack of sufficient oxygen and can cause a feeling of dizziness when you stand up and loss of clear thinking. It mainly occurs after physical exertion in combination with wheezing. A doctor may prescribe an inhaler or an oxygen mask to relief of shortness of breath. If you suffer too long from a shortness of breath it can do serious harm to your brain.
In case of malaise, the person generally feels uncomfortable, experiences poor well-being and health. Usually these feelings disappear by itself. Malaise is often accompanied by weakness and lack of energy due to not being able to fall asleep. Bronchitis also affects the quality of sleep, making the individual feel very tired. In some cases, the uncomfortable feeling can also lead to depression. When this is the case, it is very wise to seek medical help immediately. Treatment can make the patient feel better, also mentally.
Side effects of a bronchitis infection can lead to adrenal fatigue. This is an autoimmune disease that affects the adrenal glands (the glands on top of the kidneys). The adrenal glands release adrenaline-like hormones into the blood during physiological stress. This can result in an overproduction of adrenaline and cortisol, causing constant anxiety.
People who experience this are often very tired and suffer from insomnia. In most cases this will disappear automatically, but in some cases the hormone imbalance remains. This can affect the person’s quality of life. A hormone therapy or sleep medication can be the solution. Let your doctor inform you.
COPD is a chronic respiratory disease that cannot be cured. More than 15 million Americans suffer from it. Chronic bronchitis is a common symptom of COPD. If you have a bronchitis attack more than once a year, you are at increased risk of developing COPD. It is often smokers who develop this disease. Seek medical attention if your cough does not decrease over time. Quitting smoking can also slow down the progression of the disease.
If you suffer from bronchitis, or think that you suffer from it, it is always wise to seek medical help. There is of course more you can do. A healthy and balanced lifestyle goes hand in hand with the prevention of illness and helps you recover much sooner. Make sure you exercise enough, eat and sleep well and that you avoid polluted environments. Share this article with your family and friends and share the knowledge.