Cough, Asthma, Bronchitis

Cough

Having a cough is one of the most common reasons for seeing your doctor. Normal coughing is important to keep your throat and airways clear by getting rid of mucus or other irritating particles. However, an ongoing (chronic) or severe cough may mean you have an underlying disease or disorder.

Coughs can be dry or “productive,” which means that you are bringing up sputum or phlegm when you cough. Coughs can be either acute (typically not lasting longer than 2 -3 weeks) or chronic (lasting longer than 4 weeks).

A number of illnesses can cause cough. Acute coughs usually begin suddenly and are often due to a cold, flu, or sinus infection. Coughs from a lung infection such as bronchitis can start out suddenly and then linger on. Other common causes of chronic or ongoing coughs include asthma, allergies, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD from emphysema or chronic bronchitis), sinusitis with drainage into the throat, smoking cigarettes or exposure to secondhand smoke, pollutants, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). If your cough lasts more than 2 weeks, be sure to see your doctor to determine what may be causing it.

Signs and symptoms :

  • A runny nose or nasal congestion, headache, or postnasal drip from chronic sinusitis (sinus inflammation), cold, or flu
  • Wheezing from asthma
  • Heartburn from GERD
  • Fever, chills, night sweats from bronchitis, pneumonia, tuberculosis, or other lung infection
  • Chest pain, shortness of breath, or swelling of your legs from fluid retention (called edema) due to congestive heart failure
  • In rare cases, coughing up blood, which can be a sign of a serious illness such as lung cancer

Asthma

Asthma is a disease affecting the airways that carry air to and from your lungs. People who suffer from this chronic condition (long-lasting or recurrent) are said to be asthmatic.

The inside walls of an asthmatic’s airways are swollen or inflamed. This swelling or inflammation makes the airways extremely sensitive to irritations and increases your susceptibility to an allergic reaction.

As inflammation causes the airways to become narrower, less air can pass through them, both to and from the lungs. Symptoms of the narrowing include wheezing (a hissing sound while breathing), chest tightness, breathing problems, and coughing. Asthmatics usually experience these symptoms most frequently during the night and the early morning.

Bronchitis

The bronchial tubes, or bronchi, connect the windpipe to the lungs. When the lining of the bronchial tubes becomes inflamed or infected, the condition is called bronchitis. Bronchitis reduces the amount of air and oxygen that can flow into the lungs and causes a heavy mucus or phlegm to form in the airways.

Bronchitis is considered to be acute or chronic. Acute bronchitis is a shorter illness that commonly develops after a cold or viral infection such as the flu. It generally consists of a cough with green sputum, chest discomfort or soreness, fever, and sometimes shortness of breath. Acute bronchitis usually lasts a few days or weeks.

Chronic bronchitis is characterized by a persistent, mucus-producing cough on most days of the month, three months of a year for two successive years in absence of a secondary cause of the cough. People with chronic bronchitis have varying degrees of breathing difficulties, and symptoms may get better and worsen during different parts of the year.

Who gets bronchitis?

    People at increased risk of getting bronchitis and increased risk of having more severe symptoms include :
      • Smokers
      • People who are exposed to a lot of secondhand smoke
      • People with weakened immune systems
      • The elderly and infants
      • People with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
      • Those who are exposed to irritants at work, such as chemical fumes from ammonia, strong acids, chlorine, hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide or bromine

 

What are the symptoms of bronchitis?

        • Signs and symptoms for both acute and chronic bronchitis include:
      • Inflammation or swelling of the bronchi
      • Coughing
      • Production of clear, white, yellow, grey, or green mucus (sputum)
      • Shortness of breath
      • Wheezing
      • Fatigue
      • Fever and chills
      • Chest pain or discomfort
      • Blocked or runny nose
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