11 Bronchitis Remedies and Treatments. #2 Works Best for Me.
There are plenty of natural and medical bronchitis remedies that can be used to alleviate the symptoms brought on by bronchitis. Bronchitis sufferers quickly become exhausted from fighting the symptoms of this condition which can slow the recovery process. Treating the symptoms of this condition as soon as they arise often means a shorter struggle against bronchitis and a quicker overall recuperation. Having a good understanding of working bronchitis remedies can certainly come in handy if/when the condition strikes.
What is Bronchitis?
Bronchitis is a condition that often swoops in on the heels of a previous illness. This condition is defined as inflammation of the bronchi. The bronchi are a network of tubes that run from the nose to the lungs. These tubes contain a slick, lubricated lining that prevents them from becoming dry and irritated as air passes through them. When bronchitis develops, the lining becomes inflamed, that is, swollen and irritated. A by-product of bronchi inflammation is an overproduction of mucus which eventually evolves into a thick phlegm. This phlegm paired with tightened airways makes it much more difficult for the individual to take in steady, satisfying breaths.
There are two types of bronchitis: acute bronchitis and chronic bronchitis. As with any medical condition, “acute” describes the nature of the onset which is quick and isolated to a single incident. With acute bronchitis, the individual will initially begin to suffer from a persistent dry cough. A fever and chills may develop. Eventually the coughing will become productive and one will bring up thin, white mucus when coughing. As the condition progresses the mucus will turn into a thicker, yellowish-green phlegm. The affected individual may feel tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, and complain that they have to work harder to breathe. Fatigue and abdominal pain may also develop as a result of long-lasting coughing fits. Acute bronchitis generally lasts a few days to a week, although a dry cough may persist for several more weeks.
“Chronic” bronchitis is a recurring condition that affects an individual for a minimum of three months out of a year for at least two consecutive years. One who suffers from chronic bronchitis will battle a phlegm-producing cough for most days within a month. There may appear to be no secondary cause behind the onset of the bronchitis, although some individuals feel that flare-ups are more likely to occur at certain times of the year. Breathing difficulties, fatigue, and sore throat are common symptoms associate with chronic bronchitis.
What Causes Bronchitis?
Acute bronchitis is often brought on by a viral infection. In many cases, this involves the remnants of a previous infection such as a cold or flu virus. An individual who has suffered through a week-long flu virus may begin to feel better only to succumb to the symptoms of bronchitis. Less often, bronchitis can be caused by a bacterial infection, typically one that targets the respiratory tract. Although bronchitis itself is not necessarily contagious because it is essentially an inflammatory condition, the virus that causes bronchitis can be spread from person to person just like any typical cold or flu. Bronchitis triggered by a bacterial infection is most often contracted through direct contact with the bacteria. For instance, a hand-shake with an infected person followed by an unconscious nose-wipe could result in contraction of a bacterial infection which will immediately be deposited into the respiratory tract.
Chronic bronchitis is most often associated with people who smoke or are exposed to a lot of second-hand smoke. Individuals who are frequently exposed to pollution and/or chemicals that release fumes into the environment are also at a heightened risk of developing chronic bronchitis. Infants, elderly individuals, and those afflicted with GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease) also seem to be at a heightened risk of developing chronic bronchitis.
Bronchitis Remedies and Treatments
Individuals who are dealing with bronchitis for the first time may feel completely lost when it comes to finding medication to treat the symptoms. The medicine aisle at the local supermarket isn’t likely to sell products claiming to cure bronchitis. In fact, since most cases of bronchial inflammation are viral in nature, even prescription medications cannot cure the condition. That being said, there are plenty of bronchitis remedies that can help to alleviate the symptoms and enable the body to efficiently fight off the infection. Keep the following bronchitis remedies and treatments in mind the next time bronchitis symptoms arise.
1. Ginger and Lemon Tea
Ginger has powerful medicinal properties of which humans have gladly taken advantage throughout history. Although ginger is great for alleviating upset stomach and nausea, its primary medicinal use is as an anti-inflammatory agent. Ginger does not completely halt the inflammation process, which is a good thing because inflammation is a natural and effective measure that the body uses to make localized tissues unappealing to infectious organisms. Ginger works by blocking the LOX and COX enzymes which are the primary culprits at fault when the inflammation process becomes overzealous. Ginger tea can be found in most supermarkets. You may also opt for a stronger brew by boiling a few small, peeled chunks of ginger root in a pot on the stove. The ginger should be boiled for about 10 minutes to ensure that the infusion is nice and strong. Pour the tea through a strainer into a cup and add sugar or honey, if desired. If you struggle to bring up phlegm when coughing, add a healthy squirt of lemon juice to the tea. Lemon is highly acidic and is wonderful at breaking up congealed masses of phlegm, making them easier to bring up and out of the body.
Steam is also a useful tool in helping to break up thick, stringy phlegm that may otherwise be difficult to bring up. A great thing about steam treatment is that it’s easy to do when feeling sick. While taking a shower, turn the heat up enough that the shower becomes thick with steam. Take as many deep breaths of the steam as possible through both the nose and mouth. A warm mist humidifier is also a great option and can even be paired with mucus-softening essential oils like eucalyptus. If a humidifier is not available, you can always use old-fashioned steam therapy by pouring boiling water into a bowl. Add a few drops of eucalyptus oil, if possible, and hunch over the bowl with a towel over the head. This will trap the steam and enable you to take in plenty of deep breaths of steam. When using this method, it is always a good idea to remove the towel for a few seconds in order to get a few gulps of fresh air before continuing with the treatment.
3. Salt Water Gargle
Salt water gargling may sound very unappealing, but it’s actually a very effective way of breaking up thick phlegm in the throat and minimizing irritation in the throat and the back of the upper palate. To use this treatment, dissolve a teaspoon of salt into a glass of warm water. Be sure not to alter the amount of salt used for this remedy because too much salt can irritate the sensitive tissues in the throat and mouth and too little salt may not be effective. Take a bit of the salt water into the mouth and gargle for a few seconds before spitting the water into a sink or spare cup. This treatment can be done as often as necessary to find relief.
4. Garlic and Honey
One of the last things a person craves when he or she is sick is a nice chunk of garlic. In reality, garlic has a few medicinal properties that are very useful in combating illness. Garlic is a naturally occurring antibiotic, antifungal, and anti-parasite agent. Honey is also a naturally occurring antibiotic. Together, garlic and honey make a powerful antibacterial concoction that can be taken orally as a cough syrup. Finely chop one clove of garlic and mix it with four tablespoons of honey. One should swallow a teaspoon of the mixture whenever the throat begins to feel dry or irritated due to coughing. Honey acts as a wonderful protective coating for the throat which protects it from damage caused by forceful coughing.
5. Bed Rest
Bed rest is an essential part of the recovery process. Bronchitis may make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep, but simply lying down in a comfortable spot can make a huge difference in the body’s ability to fight infection. There is a lot going on in the body when a virus takes hold and a lot of energy needs to be diverted to the immune system so that white blood cells can be manufactured and sent to the site of the infection. If your body is going to keep up with its internal demands, it cannot “waste” precious energy reserves on regular daily activities like working, cleaning house, etc. In this case, the best solution is to call off sick and enlist the help of friends or family to help take care of things while you take to old-fashioned bed rest. Consider keeping a book, tablet computer, or the television remote nearby to make the time pass a little quicker.
When you are battling the symptoms of bronchitis, it is very important to consume plenty of fluids. The majority of the human body is made of water and when an infection is present, the body runs through this precious fuel at a quicker rate which means that replenishment is necessary on a more frequent basis. Ideally, you should primarily stick to drinking several glasses of water each day. Decaffeinated tea and vegetable or chicken broth are good alternatives when plain water becomes boring or unappetizing. Citrus juices can also provide an immune system boost by delivering extra vitamin C to the system and also, due to their high acid content, can help to break up stubborn mucus secretions. Beverages that contain caffeine or alcohol can prevent the immune system from functioning properly and should be avoided until the symptoms have cleared. If sweating, diarrhea, or vomiting has occurred, it is extremely important to make extra efforts to drink more water to replace that which the body has lost. In such a situation, it would also be advisable to consume an electrolyte drink to replace some of the vital minerals that are lost when sweating or purging occurs.
7. Cough Syrup
Sometimes do-it-yourself bronchitis remedies require too much effort when you are feeling so sick or they may not be potent enough to knock your symptoms into a manageable state. In a situation like this, the simplest and most effective way to treat the more prevalent symptoms, such as coughing, headache, congestion, and discomfort, is cough syrup. There are many different types of cough medicine available to choose from, but with bronchitis, the best cough syrup would be one intended to relieve dry cough or one that contains an expectorant. Expectorants work by breaking up the concentrations of mucus within the bronchi which allows the fluid to be brought out of the tubes and expelled. As coughing up the mucus substance will make it easier for you to breathe, it is recommended that you avoid using cough suppressant products unless the coughing has become so bad that you cannot sleep.
Bronchodilators are most often associated with asthma rather than bronchitis; however, this type of medication can also be used to treat persistent or severe bronchitis. Bronchodilator medication is typically inhaled as an aerosol spray. It works very quickly to widen the airways by relaxing the smooth muscle of the bronchi passages. This form of treatment is most often prescribed for infants who suffer with bronchitis as they are less suitable candidates for home remedies and other prescription medications. Bronchodilator medication may also be prescribed for elderly individuals and those who suffer from chronic bronchitis.
9. Anti-inflammatory Medication
Anti-inflammatory medication, also known as NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug), is a great weapon to have in your arsenal against bronchitis. Anti-inflammatory medication does exactly what the name suggests: it reduce inflammation in the body. In addition to bringing down swelling and irritation in the bronchi tubes and throat tissues, anti-inflammatories have analgesic properties that will reduce any pain caused by headaches or coughing fits. The most common anti-inflammatory medicines are ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, and aspirin. Popular name brands of these medications are Advil, Motrin, Aleve, and Bayer, although generic and store brands work perfectly fine.
10. Quit Smoking or Hanging Around Second-Hand Smoke
Individuals who smoke or who spend a lot of time around people who do smoke may suffer from chronic bronchitis as a result of smoke exposure. Smoke is a very irritating substance that can easily irritate the delicate lining of bronchi. As a result, the bronchi release excessive amounts of mucus to compensate which can lead to a buildup of fluid in the passageways. The buildup will eventually begin to affect a person’s ability to breathe and will kick-start a long-lasting cough. What many smokers do not realize is that the longer they continue to smoke, the lower their chances become of regaining total lung health. Long-term damage to the lungs will eventually make it more difficult to overcome fits of bronchitis. Of course, there is also the concern that the individual will develop a more serious condition such as emphysema or lung cancer.
Antibiotics are useless in treating cases where bronchitis has been caused by a virus. However, in instances where the bronchial inflammation is caused by a bacterial infection, a run-of-the-mill antibiotic prescription can be a powerful tool in treating the infection. Antibiotic medication works by basically attacking every bacterial organism in the body. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a selective antibiotic; therefore, the use of an antibiotic will eliminate the good bacteria inside the body along with the infectious varieties. The side effects of antibiotics can include upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea; however, the potential side effects are overshadowed by a quick recovery from the inflammation of the bronchi.
The remedies mentioned above are great ways to manage the symptoms of bronchitis. That being said, it may be necessary to seek medical attention if your bronchitis is accompanied by a high fever. Medical attention is also recommended for any individual nursing a bronchitis-induced cough for more than a month as this could indicate the presence of a bacterial infection, a respiratory complication, or an underlying condition.