Bronchitis is inflammation of the mucous membrane lining the tubes that carry air to the lungs both ways, in and out. These tubes are known as bronchi and ‘itis’ refers to inflammation which leads to swelling of the lining of the tube. Narrowing of bronchi takes place and results in mucus build up. People suffering from bronchitis often cough up thickened mucous.
Bronchitis normally develops from a cold or other respiratory infection. Bronchitis may be acute or chronic, the former is more common and easier to treat and improves within a few days while, the latter is a serious condition and can lead to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). When bronchitis recurs frequently most often due to smoking, the bronchial lining becomes very irritable and inflamed and needs immediate medical attention.
Bronchitis is contagious only when the causative agent is either a virus or a bacterium.
There are mainly two types of Bronchitis:
*Acute Bronchitis: It is experienced for a short duration (less than 3 weeks).
*Chronic Bronchitis: It affects an individual for a longer period of time (3 months over 2 years continuously). Repeated attacks of Acute Bronchitis can lead to Chronic Bronchitis.