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Winter's Respiratory Challenge: Managing Bronchitis for a Brighter Season

Dr Rishika Agarwal 275 Views
Updated: 21 Feb 2024
Published: 22 Jan 2024
Winter's Respiratory Challenge: Managing Bronchitis for a Brighter Season

A sudden reminder that winter has arrived is the rush of chilly air that hits your face as soon as you step outside. Furthermore, the freezing cold weather might be dangerous for those who have respiratory issues. Because there is less moisture in the air when the temperature lowers, symptoms like wheezing, throat discomfort, and laboured breathing often occur. Continue reading to know more about the solutions to your chronic bronchitis disease issues.

What is Bronchitis?

Bronchitis refers to the inflammation and mucus development in the tubes that carry air from and to your lungs. Naturally, your body will try to eliminate the formed mucus in the lungs and that leads to you suffering from terrible cough.

Usually, bronchitis can last for up to three to six weeks. Fortunately, acute bronchitis, which may affect you in winter, is curable with medication and proper care. In contrast, chronic bronchitis is a lifelong condition that can only be controlled with care but can’t be fully cured.

What are the Primary Signs and Symptoms of Bronchitis?

The primary symptom of bronchitis is a persistent, nagging cough that will last for weeks. The cough can be dry or with mucus, depending on your condition. However, you might hear a rattling sound known as wheezing as you breathe in.

Associated with it, other symptoms of bronchitis include:

  • Runny nose
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue

What are the Causes of Bronchitis?

Though the chilly atmosphere in winter can be the primary cause of acute bronchitis, other reasons include:

  • Bacteria: Mycoplasma and Bordetella Pertussis are the bacteria that can cause bronchitis.
  • Viruses: Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), Rhinovirus, Influenza, Adenovirus, and Coronavirus are dangerous viruses leading to bronchitis and other respiratory issues.
  • Smoking: It is one of the common causes of cough and bronchitis.
  • Air Pollution: The pollution in the air can affect your lungs and lead to bronchitis.

Bronchitis Tests and Diagnosis

There isn’t any test that can detect bronchitis. But a collective of tests advised by the doctors are:

  • Chest X-ray: This test is done to detect most lung issues, and bronchitis is one of them. The test involves getting images of your lungs through electromagnetic radiation. 
  • Sputum Test: This test involves collecting the sputum (spit that comes after cough) and diagnosing it in the lab.
  • Blood Tests: Your doctor may suggest several blood tests to detect lung infection.
  • Nasal Swab: Inserting a swab in the nose and collecting samples can help medical professionals diagnose the cause of your bronchitis.
  • Pulmonary Function Tests: Your doctor can perform this test to detect the overall functionality of your lungs.

Managing Bronchitis and Other Respiratory Challenges in the Winter Season

Taking all the precautions mentioned below can help avoid respiratory ailments throughout the winter. Therefore, incorporate these healthy practices into your routine throughout the colder months to maintain good respiratory health and prevent breathing troubles.

Bronchitis

During the winter, you may experience bronchitis due to inflammation, irritation, and swelling of the respiratory channel. The symptoms of acute and chronic bronchitis disease are far more severe than those of the common cold despite their similarities.

Measures to Control Bronchitis:

  • Using a steam inhaler can help you breathe easier and release mucus, which is one way to manage bronchitis.
  • Regular gargling with salt water will ease sore throats and mucus buildup.
  • Avoid smoking, get enough sleep, and take vitamin D supplements.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (Bronchiolitis)

Children and newborns are the primary carriers of this respiratory illness. During the colder months, RSV can cause pneumonia and chronic bronchitis. RSV patients may also have excruciating chest pain and trouble breathing during the coldest months of the year. It is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children younger than 1 year of age.

Advice for Treating RSV (Bronchiolitis):

  • Since the virus is communicative, keep your infant away from other people.
  • To keep your infant hydrated, offer breastfeeding or formula feeding frequently.
  • Using a cool air humidifier helps to relieve congestion and cough while releasing mucus.
  • The house should be well-cleaned on the exterior to keep germs at bay.
  • To help your child breathe easier, your doctor might also advise nebulisation.

Asthma

Wintertime's chilly air can readily set off an asthma attack. The cold season also increases the risk of infectious diseases, the flu, and the common cold.

Asthma Management Tips:

  • Reduce exposure to allergens, including dust, pets, pollen, etc. Put on a mask if you need to protect yourself.
  • Steer clear of specific foods that could cause an asthma attack.
  • Always keep a relief inhaler on hand in case of unexpected attacks.
  • Practice deep breathing exercises to open your airways and start breathing normally again. Always get medical advice before beginning any type of activity.

Pneumonia

The cold weather of the winter season plays a part in the illness, even though pathogenic bacteria or viruses are the primary cause. The cold air might exacerbate a pneumonia respiratory infection that already exists. You might feel discomfort like fever, chest pain, and a worsening cough, which could make you gasp for air or breathe quickly and shallowly.

Advice for Treating Pneumonia:

  • As you recover from pneumonia, make sure you get enough sleep.
  • To keep your body hydrated and ease congestion, drink lots of water.
  • Use zinc and vitamin C tablets to boost your defences against illness.

Influenza

Flu is the colloquial term for influenza. Its frequency rises in the winter, causing the afflicted individual to experience exhaustion, congestion, bodily aches, and chest pain.

Tips for Controlling the Flu:

  • Use a face mask. Wash your hands well to stop the virus from spreading. 
  • Use natural remedies and vitamin C tablets to strengthen your immunity.
  • To help clear your sinuses and improve breathing, warm liquids, steaming baths, and cool air humidifier use can all be beneficial.

COPD

Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and lung disease are more susceptible to infections and illnesses during the winter months. Consequently, those with COPD and lung disease may have life-threatening respiratory difficulties, coughing, and increased mucus production.

Advice for Managing COPD

  • Give up smoking to stop the disease from getting worse.
  • Avoid environments that can make breathing more difficult, such as second-hand smoke, air pollution, dust, and chemical smells.
  • Inhaling steam clears the airways of mucus, which facilitates better breathing.

Summing up

Considering the likelihood of respiratory flare-ups and the unfavourable wintertime air quality. Treatment of bronchitis and respiratory breathing system issues is crucial. Wear warm clothes, especially if you're going outside in the cold.

Wearing a scarf over your mouth and nose will help keep cold air out of your lungs. Healthy eating and drinking lots of water will significantly benefit your lungs. Red bell peppers and carrots have been proven to reduce bronchitis symptoms and significantly improve lung health.

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