Pneumonia and bronchitis are the two major types of chest infections. While the former affects the lungs, the latter affects the bronchi, which are the two large airways or branches of the trachea that carry the inhaled air to the lungs. Young children and the elderly are at a greater risk of developing such infections. The incidence of these respiratory tract infections is quite high during winter. Both acute bronchitis and pneumonia can cause severe symptoms, which is why one must consult a doctor at the earliest. The affected individual can also follow certain tried-and-tested home remedies.
Contributing Factors and Symptoms
Bronchitis refers to the inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes that perform the vital task of carrying air to and from the lungs. Viral and bacterial infections are the most common causes of bronchitis. More often than not, the viruses that cause cold and flu are responsible for causing the inflammation of bronchial tubes. Bronchitis can also develop into pneumonia in the absence of prompt treatment.
While flu virus or varicella zoster virus are known to cause pneumonia in children and young adults, this condition can also be caused due to a bacterium called Streptococcus pneumoniae. Those who contract such infections are likely to experience symptoms such as:
- Yellow or green phlegm
- Rapid or labored breathing
- Chest discomfort
- Fever (high fever, sweating, and shaking chills in case of pneumonia)
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle aches
The inflammation of the airways causes them to get constricted, thereby limiting the flow of air into the lungs. This gives rise to wheezing. The color of phlegm might also turn yellow or green. Coughing fits might also leave the affected individual feeling very tired. One might also experience a feeling of heaviness in the chest along with pain.
Usually, antibiotics and anti-viral drugs are often prescribed for treating bacterial and viral infections respectively. More often than not, the patient might get relief by using an inhaled bronchodilator. Oral steroids might be recommended for individuals affected by chronic bronchitis. Supplemental oxygen may be needed for those affected by shortness of breath.
The use of antipyretics is recommended for alleviating fever, whereas cough expectorants might also be prescribed for treating congestion. However, the affected individual could also benefit by following certain home remedies. It is extremely essential to get plenty of rest and stay hydrated. One must also try to avoid or minimize the exposure to environmental irritants. Here are some natural remedies that might help in alleviating some of the symptoms.
- Inhalation of steam will help in loosening up the phlegm, thereby providing relief from chest congestion. You can also add a few drops of essential oils such as eucalyptus oil to a bowl of hot water. Now, lean over the bowl and cover your head with a towel. Since eucalyptus oil has antibacterial properties, inhaling the vapors will surely provide relief.
- Another effective remedy is to have a tablespoon of honey twice a day. One could also add a teaspoon of ginger juice to two teaspoons of honey and have it twice a day. Ginger is a natural decongestant and also has great healing powers.
- Inhaling the aroma of roasted and crushed caraway seeds will also help in getting rid of excess mucus.
- One can also drink herbal teas for getting relief from chest congestion. One can drink tea made from thyme, licorice, or fenugreek. One can also make herbal tea using lemon, ginger, and honey.
- The affected individuals must also increase their intake of water and avoid drinking coffee, tea, or carbonated drinks. Inadequate fluid intake will delay the recovery process, which is why one must stay well-hydrated. Drink a glass of warm water before going to bed.
- Dairy products, banana, processed food, sweets, rice, yogurt, and fried foods cause excessive production of phlegm and must be avoided.
If you ever experience the symptoms of a respiratory tract infection, you can follow any of the aforementioned remedies. However, don't rely on these remedies completely. It would be better to consult a doctor for proper treatment.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.