Oxygen Therapy for Chronic Bronchitis
Bronchitis is horrible at the best of times. When it comes back time and time again, it can be downright terrifying, especially in those moments where you cannot seem to get enough air. This is know as chronic bronchitis and oxygen therapy for chronic bronchitis has shown that it can help symptoms.
An Overview of Bronchitis
Bronchitis occurs when the lining of your bronchial tubes become inflamed and they fill with extra sticky mucus. The primary job of bronchial tubes is to carry oxygen to the lungs. When your air passage swells or becomes blocked by mucus, breathing becomes more difficult; you are not intaking enough oxygen or emitting carbon dioxide out of the body.
What Is Chronic Bronchitis?
Chronic bronchitis is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD is a group of lung diseases which affect the ability to breathe and worsens over time. When bronchitis happens repeatedly or continuously for a long period of time, it is considered chronic bronchitis and is more serious than acute bronchitis. Acute bronchitis is more common and usually stems from a cold or another respiratory infection. Unlike acute bronchitis, chronic bronchitis does not go away and the irritation and inflammation are constant. A cough with chronic bronchitis lasts regularly for at least three months of the year with recurring bouts for at least a couple years.
Chronic Bronchitis Symptoms
Symptoms can ebb and flow over time; there will be periods where symptoms are manageable, but there may be periods of time where symptoms get worse. Chronic bronchitis may include some of the following symptoms:
- Constant cough
- Discoloured mucus that may be clear, white, yellowish-grey, or green
- Shortness of breath or wheezing, especially when engaging in physical activity
- A whistling sound when you breathe
- Slight fever and chills
- Chest discomfort or tightness
- Frequent respiratory infections (for instance a cold or flu)
- Severe cases may cause weight loss, muscle weakness, and swelling in the legs, ankles, or feet
Causes of Chronic Bronchitis
Damage to the lungs and airways makes you more susceptible to chronic bronchitis. Primarily, smoking is a common cause. There are other ways lungs become damaged such as long-term exposure to other irritants in the environment, like air pollution, dust, second-hand smoke, chemical fumes, or toxic gases. In rare cases, a genetic condition called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, may make you more vulnerable to chronic bronchitis. The best way to reduce your risk of chronic bronchitis, or further damage to your lungs, is to stop smoking or wear a suitable facemask if you are exposed to other irritants.
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When to See a Doctor
With lung issues, you should not sit idle and wait for your symptoms to solve themselves. You will want to keep your doctor in the loop so they can advise you of all treatment options. Make an appointment if you are concerned about your health or you are experiencing any of the following:
- A cough that lasts longer than three weeks
- Symptoms that interfere with your sleep
- Wheezing or shortness of breath
- A fever higher than 100.4F or 38C
- A cough that produces discoloured mucus or blood
Treatment of Chronic Bronchitis
Treatment for chronic bronchitis ranges from medications, to lifestyle changes, to oxygen therapy. Each case is different, which makes treatment differ between individuals and what works best for their condition. The goal of treatment is to relieve bronchitis symptoms, prevent complications and slow any disease advancement. There may be some side effects with treatment, especially with medications, so make sure you speak with your doctor and pharmacist before starting new medication.
Treatment may include:
- Bronchodilator Medications. Bronchodilators may help by relaxing and opening air passages. These medications are either inhaled as aerosol sprays or taken orally and require a prescription.
- Steroids. Steroids can help minimize inflammation of the bronchial tubes. They are Inhaled as aerosol spray.
- Antibiotics. Antibiotics help fight respiratory infections and decrease inflammatory response.
- Lifestyle changes. A healthy lifestyle reduces your risk of chronic bronchitis. Changes like quitting smoking, eating a nutritious and well-rounded diet, and exercise will keep you in fighting shape and boost your immunity.
- Vaccines. Getting your annual flu shot will help prevent future infection. Pneumonia shots are also recommended every five to seven years.
- Surgery. There are a couple surgery options available. One surgery is used to remove small pieces of damaged lung tissue. In serious cases, a lung transplant is a last resort for those who have not improved with medication.
- Pulmonary rehabilitation. This is a program that helps improve the wellbeing of people with chronic breathing problems. The program includes education, nutrition, counselling, help with quitting smoking and other rehabilitation factors.
- Oxygen therapy. The use of additional oxygen given on an as-needed basis, so a person is able to breathe better.
Oxygen Therapy for Chronic Bronchitis
In cases where chronic bronchitis progresses, the lungs may not be able to supply the body with all the oxygen it needs and additional oxygen may be required. The amount of additional oxygen needed depends on the severity of your chronic bronchitis. Oxygen therapy gets more oxygen to your lungs and into your bloodstream through various oxygen forms and delivery devices, helping the patient breathe better. Oxygen therapy systems are portable and can be delivered in oxygen concentrators, oxygen-gas cylinders and liquid oxygen devices. Oxygen therapy has good short-term and long-term effects to ensure your body gets the amount of oxygen it needs. Make sure you follow doctor’s instructions and use the levels prescribed.
In meditation they emphasize relying on your breath to ground yourself. It’s awfully hard to do when your breathing is impaired. Treatments may help you breathe easier and help you get the air you need.