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Bronchitis

Bronchitis is a pulmonary disease, and is caused by the onset of inflammation in the windpipe leading to the lungs, which is also called the bronchus and hence the name, in this disease inflammation sets in on the bronchial tubes, which are the air passages into the lungs. Most of windpipe and all the internal large and small bronchial tubes are lined by tiny hairs or cilia that aid in airflow and in the capture of tiny particles and filtration of air. When bronchitis is full blown all of these air passages are inflamed and swollen, thickening a great deal in the process, this inflammation and swelling leads to the paralysis of the cilia or the hairs in the passage ways. There is thick development mucus, that results in congestion and clogging of these selfsame air passage ways, as mucus is generally produced in the bronchi to aid in the riddance of particles that come in with air, this sudden increase in its production is simply a reaction to the inflammation that has set in. A wheezing cough often accompanies the production of this mass of mucus. The general feeling besides the sensation of congestion in the trachea is the difficulty in breathing that sets in. The need to constantly cough out mucus, and general physical discomfiture-which can include mild to moderate fever are other symptoms.

There are two forms of bronchitis, both are somewhat similar and are most probably due to similar causes but run their course in different ways within the human body. Therefore bronchitis as a diagnosed disorder can be of the acute type or the chronic type. Bronchitis that is of the acute type is characterized by a slight increase in body temperature leading to a slight fever that may endure for a few days to weeks; acute type of bronchitis is also often accompanied by a cough that may persist for weeks at a time. The chronic form of bronchitis has characteristic symptoms that may or may not include fever; the patient may continually be compelled to spit out a yellowish and slightly discolored phlegm. Along with this sign and nasal congestion, in the case of chronic bronchitis, a hacking cough persists and may stay on with the affected person for months at a time, chronic bronchitis is also very often known to be recurrent in patients who have already had a previous attack.

The occurrence of acute bronchitis can often be predicted because of its usual occurrence after a person suffers from a cold or the flu, it can however be the result of bacterial infection or in other ways due to the constant irritation of the bronchi by polluted air and or chemical fumes present in the environment. Chemical and biological irritation is believed to be the primary cause of chronic bronchitis in a person, chronic cases of bronchitis often come about because of the persistent presence of irritants in the lungs, irritants that may be particulate matter as from chemical combustion, biological irritants such as bacteria and even through pollen. One of the identified causes of bronchitis is the constant irritation afforded by cigarette smoke on the lungs, smoking is therefore one of the prime suspects in cases of bronchitis in persons who smoke. There are also suggestions that exposure to second hand cigarette smoke for a long time can bring about chronic bronchitis. Metallurgical and chemical industry workers are also people with a risk of developing chronic cases of bronchitis. People with allergies are also susceptible to chronic bronchitis, for example in individuals who have an allergy to pollen.

Supplements and herbs

A strong and robust immune system is the body's first line of defense against illness. Therefore it cannot be over emphasized that strengthening your body's immune response is one of the first steps in living healthily, herbal and herb based supplements can greatly aid you in this endeavor. Supplements aid in the body's fight against various illnesses by their ability to provide crucial compounds when taken along with a normal diet. Many supplements benefit those who consume them in not only stimulating and bolstering the immune system, but in the case of bronchitis some supplements may even help in the extraction, and removal of unwanted phlegm inside the bronchi. For the disorder of bronchitis there are two distinct types of supplements. In cases of acute bronchitis, supplements quoted are for use only when a diagnosis for bronchitis has been confirmed and not to be taken as a prophylactic agent. While those suggested for cases of chronic bronchitis are to be taken even as a prophylactic or preventive measure against recurrence of chronic bronchitis. In other words supplements for acute type bronchitis are for short-term use and those for the chronic type are for long-term use.

Vitamins are very important supplements in combating most diseases. Ascorbic acid or vitamin C as a supplement is an effective anti-viral agent, especially towards viruses that home in on the pulmonary processes. In coupling vitamin C with other compounds, such as flavonoids and the bioflavonoids which are powerful antioxidants, the body is assured of a double edged sword consisting both of an anti-viral system and an anti-oxidant complex which serves against both viruses that may attack the respiratory system and anti-oxidants which help reduce the chance of inflammation setting in the bronchi. The flavanoids and the bio-flavanoids mentioned earlier are also effective anti viral agents in their own right and have a strong anti-inflammatory tendency. Vitamin A, which is a fat-soluble vitamin, is also an essential component of the body's immune system. These vitamin complexes are important in cellular repair and in the form of chronic bronchitis both the C and A type vitamins aid in the regeneration of pulmonary tissue.

When a person is under the throes of an acute attack of bronchitis, an immediate way to alleviate the complications from the attack would be the consumption of horehound tea, which helps the body by reducing mucus production and by thinning the secreted mucus in the air passages. A good herbal substitute for horehound tea would be tea made out of slippery elm, which is just as effective, and acts in a similar way. Coming again to chemical supplements an amino acid derivative called NAC (N-acetylcysteine) also acts in a similar way to these herbs, that is its primary role is in thinning mucus secretion and in the reduction of mucus production, hence this chemical is also a good bet in the fight against chronic bronchitis, moreover research has suggested that this chemical may even reduce the chances of a relapse in chronic bronchitis.

Among the herbal supplements Echinacea and astragalus are two herbs that are bactericidal, they are also known to be antiviral, and research suggest that they may also have immune system bolstering properties. Administered at a high dosage level, they have proved effective in reversing the effects of acute bronchitis, bringing on recovery in a short period of time. Conversely in the chronic type of bronchitis, a high dosage may not necessarily be beneficial, instead measured doses of the herbs on a rotational basis should be administered to the patient, the suggested dosage level is something like Echinacea to be taken in 200 mg tablets about twice a day, the same for astragalus also to be taken in 200 mg doses at least twice a day. It has to be understood that chronic bronchitis sometimes displays a seasonal pattern and recurs again and again; therefore a long-term use of these herbs has to be administered carefully and on a rotational basis. Other herbs can join in here for example pau d'arco could also be taken in 250 mg doses twice a day, and in addition to this a 1,500 mg tablet of reishi or if unavailable an alternate 600 mg tablet of maitake mushrooms should be used over the long term along with the two herbal supplements for chronic bronchitis. The rotational basis mentioned above applies to the Echinacea and astragalus tablets, rotation is simply using one particular herb one week and the other the next, or one herb a day and the other the next.

Homeopathy

Homeopathy is a holistic approach to healing and illness. It is an alternative system to the traditional scientific one but has proved its usefulness in the numerous cases where it has made advanced treatments that were in cases more effective than that of modern medicine. Most homeopathic remedies are based on naturally occurring substances and act on the body's immune system in order to enable it to fight against disease better. In cases of bronchitis homeopathy may help greatly in removing the distress caused by cough and in immune function. However it must be said here that very prolonged and severe cases of bronchitis must involve a qualified physician in its diagnosis and treatment.

  • Antimonium tar.
    Antimonium tar. is a prescription suggested to patients suffering from bronchitis who may have a congested feeling around their chest, the feeling may include a suggestion of wet mucus clogging the lung, the symptoms may include labored breathing along with a rattling sound when respiring. There could also be a difficulty in coughing and even this may take a lot of effort and the spasmic contraction involved may not be sufficient to bring the mucus to the exterior, and the only relief might be if the person burped or spat repeatedly, the symptoms may also include a drowsiness and lack of energy and the person may feel faint and dizzy, and this symptoms may only be relieved by either sitting up or lying prone in a particular angle or side of the body for example the right side of the body.
  • Bryonia
    Bryonia is prescribed only to patients suffering from a dry and very painful cough during the occurrence of bronchitis, there is very little mucus in the cough and the effort itself is very painful. Any sort of motion may worsen the cough and the patient might be afraid to move for fear of coughing. The patient may even try to hold down the sides of his body manually in an attempt to lessen the pain. He may even experience spasmodic muscular cramps in his stomach each time he coughs and this may even be coupled with a digestive disorder in the stomach. Symptoms include dryness of the mouth and a persistent thirst that may not be easily quenched by drinking water. A very dry mouth and a sullen disposition characterizes such a sufferer and bryonia is to be prescribed in this case, as the patient may not be even willing to talk and can be seen to actively avoid company, remaining still most of the time.
  • Calcarea carbonica
    Calcarea carbonica is suggested to patients suffering from acute bronchitis especially one that has made an appearance after the person suffered from a common cold. The other symptoms are the presence of a constant cough with a tickling sensation around the throat, the person may not be very comfortable in positions where he has to lie down or even stoop slightly and the symptoms like the cough may come out in force in cold weather and in the nighttime. The symptoms in children may differ from the ones in the adults and children may have a mild fever, and they may get sweaty in the temples and the head region while asleep, the symptoms in children may also include a listlessness and lack of energy, they may tire easily during play. The symptoms of the adults may be very different and they may feel cold all the time, with clammy hands and feet. They may have problems breathing easily and may tire out quickly, in such cases of acute bronchitis calcarea is to be prescribed.
  • Causticum
    Causticum is to suggest to patients who have developed bronchitis with symptoms that include a deep, hard sounding, racking cough. The tell tale signs may include the feeling of trapped mucus in the throat and in the chest, the person may not be able to dislodge this supposed mucus that is stuck in his throat even after a prolonged bout of coughing. He may thus cough in a vain attempt to loosen this feeling of mucus around the throat. The symptoms may also include a sensation of rawness and a sore feeling in the mouth and throat, and a feeling that something hard and almost like a small stone is stuck somewhere in the throat. The person may feel extremely cold and chills may continually envelope him and there could also be present a moderate to mild recurring fever. The persistent cough may not be helped by cold air or surroundings and may increase in intensity whenever cold weather approaches. Respite may come in warmer days and in balmy environments and the cough may be relieved partially by ingesting something cold.
  • Dulcamara
    Dulcamara is only to be prescribed in cases of bronchitis where a person's condition changes very greatly in alternate types of weather. The person may feel worse, with all symptoms rising to a crescendo on being in a wet and cold place, symptoms that may vary widely in warm weather to severe illness in cold weather. This remedy may be suggested when the symptoms include a ticklish and raspy cough, which sounds hoarse and loose and increase in intensity after every bout of physical activity. Such patients are typically people who have allergies and may have become susceptible to bronchitis because of their allergic reactions to substances like pollen and cats hair having weakened them. For bronchitis caused by allergies this remedy may be prescribed.
  • Hepar sulp.
    People who need Hepar sulp. are usually affected with symptoms like a dry cackling cough accompanied by a hoarse and rattling sound, the color of the mucus secreted is usually yellowish in tinge. The patient has symptoms that are aggravated in cold weather and are easily upset even by a small draft of cold air. Cold weather may bring on fits coughing worsening as the weather cools. The consumption of cold food or chilled drinks may aggravate the symptoms. The patient may feel insecure and irritable and become very emotional when least expected.
  • Kali bich.
    Kali bich. is to be prescribed to people who have developed symptoms of bronchitis, such as a metallic sounding hacking cough that also is accompanied by a ticklish sensation and a spewing out of stringy and sticky strands of yellow mucus. Varied symptoms may include a feeling of coldness across the chest and within the lungs, with pain being a resultant action of cough that may be felt acutely in the breastbones and in the chest every time the person coughs. A difficulty in breathing during sleep may also be a symptom and the person may make rattling types of noises while sleeping. All symptoms may worsen in the early mornings and in cold weather, and even after food. The person may continually seek the warmth of a bed.
  • Pulsatilla
    Pulsatilla is to be prescribed especially in cases of bronchitis where symptoms may include a feeling of great weight of the chest. A dry retching cough with the sensations of being choked or gag may bring up yellow mucus or sputum. Other typical symptoms may also include a change in the type of cough experienced at different times in a 24-hour period. The cough may be a dry type at night with very little mucus brought up, while in the mornings and in cooler air the cough may bring up a lot of mucus. Other symptoms include a fever which always appears to be severe in the evening and during the night, subsiding however with the morning and the day. The person may prefer open places with lots of air flowing about and this could also lessen the activity of the symptoms like the cough. The patient may not be thirsty for prolonged periods and may be emotionally insecure and moody, craving attention and care. This herb is also a good bet for children suffering from these kinds of symptoms.
  • Silicea
    Silicea is to be prescribed to persons who have had symptoms associated with bronchitis for prolonged periods of time and even week upon week. There is a typical cough, which with some effort brings up mucus, which could be colored with a yellowish or greenish tint. There may even be small granules in the mucus characterized by an offensive smell. The person may experience stabbing pains on the back of the torso when he is coughing. The person in addition may be more sensitive to cold weather and a fever is almost always present, along with profuse sweating during the night. They may experience tiredness and could be sensitive and nervous with a very low stamina and physical signs like a swollen lymph node may indicate susceptibility to infection.
  • Sulphur
    Sulphur is to be prescribed in recurring cases of bronchitis, where overuse of antibiotics may have seriously hampered the body's ability to defend itself. There is present a rough, and burningly painful cough with a discharge of yellow or green mucus, and such symptoms may be aggravated when such persons become too warm in bed, other symptoms may be difficulty in respiration while asleep. The symptoms may be varied but this type of recurrence of bronchitis happens only in cases where, a previous attack was ineffectively treated. Other tell tale signs are the redness in the eye's and irritation in the mucous membranes, the patient may develop bad breath and will often sweat profusely at night. Only persons who fulfill all these peculiar symptoms are to be prescribed with this particular supplement.

Additional things you may do

  • If you have chronic bronchitis, stay indoors when the quality of the air is poor.
  • Avoid using of aerosol products (insecticides, deodorants, hair sprays). They may irritate airway passages.
  • Stop smoking, avoid situations where people smoke.
  • Drink lots of fluids, for example: herbal teas, and fruit juices. Dehydration may cause mucus to become thick and hard to cough up.

Usual dosage

  • Vitamin A, 25,000 IU daily for 1 month. Pregnant women should not exceed 5,000 IU daily.
  • Flavonoids / Vitamin C, 500 mg flavonoids and 1,000 mg vitamin C 3 times daily. If diarrhea develops, reduce vitamin C dose .
  • Astragalus, 200 mg 2 times a day (chronic) or 4 times a day (acute). Supplying 70% polysaccharides and 0.5% glucosides.
  • Echinacea, 200 mg two times a day (chronic) or four times a day (acute). Standardized to contain 3.5% echinacosides.
  • Horehound, 3 or 4 cups daily, as a tea. Use 1 to 2 table spoon per cup of hot water. Add honey to taste.
  • NAC, 250 mg (chronic) or 500 mg (acute) three times daily. Add 2 mg copper and 30 mg zinc daily for long-term use. Take between meals.

For kids

See age-appropriate dosages of herbal remedies

Dosages for children are very different from adults and that is understandable, for treating the acute symptoms of bronchitis in children symptomatically. A careful preparation has to be made in the measurements of various constituents, for example to treat cough related troubles in children, what is recommended is a cough syrup made out of slippery elm, flavored with licorice, and including marshmallow root, and or if that is unavailable osha root. The concoction is manufactured by simmering equal parts of each component in a tincture with measurements representing 40 drops of tincture or 1 tablespoon of whole herb mixed in with about a quart of water for twenty minutes. Age is also a determining factor in the treatment and preparation of the dose, for example sweetening the mixture with honey may make it more palatable for children over a year old. Dosage to children may go somewhat like this a teaspoon every other hour for the first day, giving a total of about eight teaspoons per day. And increasing or decreasing the teaspoons as the cough subsides or remains, if the cough subsides then the best way to go about it would be to continue at about six teaspoons, four to six times a day until the complete abatement of the cough. The herbs used are extremely gentle and have a soothing effect on the throat and may calm inflammation in the respiratory tract. Inhaling the vapor of this mixture may also be a good way of dealing with persistent symptoms and coughs.

NOTE: Licorice should not be included if your child suffers from any of the symptoms of high blood pressure. Other options like the common herb thyme is known to be an active anti-microbial agent and thus it can be used in lessening the persistence of spasmodic cough. Thyme should have a dosage for children of about a teaspoon, thrice a day. An alternative to this is the topical application in a bath of thyme, chamomile and if that is unavailable rosemary. The strong long lingering smell of the herb may not be pleasant to children and therefore the bath is an excellent alternative. Other alternatives are Itsiao Keh Chuan which is a Chinese herbal cough syrup, and is very effective in dealing with coughs, it may however be too strange for your kids, but it can be sweetened or the dosages can be reduced so as not to have too much of it at one go, the instructions are available on the bottle itself.

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