The air we inhale goes in through our nose and mouth, then into our throat and chains of air passageways called bronchial tubes. For air to reach our lungs, those tubes need to be open, where the oxygen is transported into the blood and to tissues of our body.
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However, it may be hard for inhaled air to reach the lungs if the airways are inflamed. With less air getting in, you can feel breathless or short of breath which may result to cough and wheeze in an attempt to draw in more oxygen through constricted passageways.
Bronchitis and asthma are two conditions that causes inflammation of the airway.
Acute bronchitis: caused by bacterial or viral infections, is an inflammation of the lining of the airways that resolves itself after running its course.
Chronic bronchitis: is longer lasting, can be caused by long-term exposure to environmental irritants such as dust, chemicals, or tobacco smoke.
Asthma is an inflammatory condition that leads to constriction of the muscles around the airways and swelling that makes airways to narrow.
Asthmatic bronchitis occurs when asthma and acute bronchitis happens together.
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Asthmatic bronchitis is not contagious. Though bronchitis itself can be caused by a virus or bacteria, which are contagious. However, chronic asthmatic bronchitis is not contagious.
Causes of Asthmatic Bronchitis
Common triggers of asthmatic bronchitis include:
- Tobacco smoke
- Allergens such as dust, mold, pet dander, pollen, or food
- Some medications like beta-blockers and aspirin
- Strong emotions
- Viral or bacterial infections
- Changes in weather
Symptoms of Asthmatic Bronchitis
The symptoms of asthmatic bronchitis are a combination of the symptoms of bronchitis and asthma. You may experience some or all of the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
- Excess mucus production
Diagnosis of Asthmatic Bronchitis
You should see your doctor if you have any of the symptoms above. After going through a series of questions about your symptoms and taking a medical history and physical exam your doctor may order tests such as:
- Spirometry: This test that measures lung function as you inhale and exhale out of a mouthpiece that is attached to a device called a spirometer.
- Chest X-ray: This is a radiology test that produces images of the chest to check for evidence of other conditions that could be causing your symptoms.
- Peak expiratory flow: This test measures the force of air you exhale into the mouthpiece of a device called a peak expiratory flow meter.
Treatments for Asthmatic Bronchitis
Treatments for asthmatic bronchitis are basically the same as those used to treat asthma and bronchitis, and may include:
- Short-acting bronchodilators, such as albuterol, to help open the airway to provide short-term relief
- Inhaled corticosteroids.
- A humidifier or steam
- Long-acting bronchodilators used together with inhaled corticosteroids
- Leukotriene modifiers
- Cromolyn or theophylline
- Combination inhalers containing both a steroid and a bronchodilator
- Long-acting anticholinergics
Bacterial respiratory infection may be treated with antibiotics.
It would be advisable to avoid asthma triggers by following these tips:
- Frequently wash your hands to prevent the spread of infection.
- Keep pets out of your bedroom.
- Avoid tobacco smoke.
- Wash your bed linens and blankets in hot water.
- Dust and vacuum regularly.
- Use a HEPA air filter in your home.