Bronchitis is a health condition in which the lining of the bronchia, or the tubes that connect your lungs to your nose and mouth, get inflamed. It is a stressful respiratory condition to have, with coughing being the most persistent symptom. Thankfully, there are some home remedies for bronchitis that may bring you relief. In this article, we take a detailed look at what causes bronchitis, how to get rid of bronchitis, and some preventive measures.
In This Article
What Causes Acute Bronchitis?
- Viral Infection
Research shows that between 85 and 95 percent of acute bronchitis cases in adults are caused by viruses which are also responsible for causing flu or the common cold (1).
- Bacterial Infection
Certain bacterial infections can also develop into acute bronchitis. It is rare, but generally follows bronchitis caused by a virus. Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Chlamydia pneumoniae, and Bordetella pertussis (that causes whooping cough) are some of the common bacteria which may cause bronchitis (1).
Inhaling irritants like smoke, smog, or chemical fumes may cause inflammation in the trachea and bronchial tubes, leading to chronic bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis is a risk factor for acute bronchitis (2).
- Pre-existing Lung Conditions
Your body may give out clues (symptoms) when you have developed bronchitis. Read on to see what those are.
Symptoms Of Bronchitis
Bronchitis may initially be confused with the common cold or flu as you may experience some similar symptoms like a runny nose, headache, or sore throat. However, there are some distinguishing symptoms of bronchitis (5). They include:
- persistent cough
- breathing difficulties
- mucus formation and expulsion
- chest discomfort or heaviness
- mild fever with chills
So, how long should you expect these symptoms to linger before you get better?
How Long Do Symptoms Of Bronchitis Last?
Bronchitis can be of two types: acute or chronic. How long the symptoms of bronchitis will last depends solely on which type you’re suffering from.
Acute bronchitis can generally last anywhere between 10 and 14 days, though some symptoms may persist up to 3 weeks (6). It is important to note that acute bronchitis caused by a virus is contagious only till the symptoms go away. You may experience a persistent, dry cough following bronchitis that usually remains for up to 3 or 4 weeks. This cough is generally caused by irritated bronchial tubes and not an active infection, and so is not a sign of contagiousness.
Chronic bronchitis on the other hand is a long-lasting form of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and may last for three months at least. If you have chronic bronchitis, you may experience frequent episodes of bronchitis for two years or more even after your recovery (7).
Home remedies for bronchitis may provide symptomatic treatment and support during the recovery period.
Home Remedies For Bronchitis
There is some evidence to suggest that humidification may help patients fight the severe symptoms of bronchitis. A humidifier may reduce inflammation and help in the expulsion of mucus (8). Use a cool-mist humidifier or a vaporizer to keep the environment moist. However, there are certain risks to using a humidifier, so make sure you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for use, cleaning, and maintenance.
- Essential Oils
Essential oils of myrtle, orange, eucalyptus, thyme, and nigella sativa have been studied and proven to be beneficial as a remedy for bronchitis. The antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of these oils play important roles in relieving the symptoms of acute and chronic bronchitis. It is best to inhale essential oils. You can directly take a few deep inhales of your chosen essential oil straight from the bottle. Another alternative is to put a couple of drops of essential oil into a bowl of hot water and inhale the steam after covering your head with a towel. For the easiest way, put essential oils in a diffuser during bedtime (9), (10).
- Warm Liquids
Research confirms that a warm drink can help combat most of the symptoms of cold and flu, like a runny nose, headache, sore throat, and more (11). Since bronchitis is often caused by the same virus that causes cold and flu and shares symptoms, drinking warm fluids may be one of the easiest home remedies for bronchitis.
Honey has anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties, which make it a great natural option for bronchitis treatment. It is often claimed to be effective in providing relief to patients with asthma. In a study conducted on children, oral consumption of honey was found to be the most effective at reducing cough and providing relief when taken before bedtime ( 12), (13). Add honey to ginger or turmeric tea or simply have a spoonful for quick relief from the cough that accompanies bronchitis.
Research suggests that ginger may have an anti-inflammatory effect and reduce the severity of bronchitis symptoms (14). You can make a soothing cup of ginger tea by boiling ginger in water for five minutes. You can also chew on a piece of raw ginger dipped in honey. Alternatively, use ginger in your food, especially stir-fries or soups.
Turmeric is a rich source of antioxidants, which can support your immune function (15), (16). Additionally, it has anti-inflammatory properties. A study comparing the anti-inflammatory effects of turmeric, ginger and a commonly prescribed drug found that turmeric had more anti-inflammatory potential than the other two ( 17). These properties of turmeric may help alleviate the symptoms of bronchitis and help in faster recovery. To take turmeric as one of the natural home remedies for bronchitis, use grated fresh turmeric root to make a tea or add sliced turmeric to your salad. You can also use powdered turmeric in your fried egg, stir-fries, chicken stew, or bone broths.
Garlic for bronchitis is an effective option, especially if you have a case of viral infection related bronchitis. An animal study shows that garlic can significantly inhibit the growth of a coronavirus called infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) that causes bronchitis. While further studies are needed to prove the effect on humans, this throws light on garlic’s potential antimicrobial activity (18). It is best if you can have raw garlic. To temper the taste a little, you can dip a clove of peeled garlic in honey and chew on it. If that seems a little too unappetizing, you can add minced garlic to any stir-fries, pasta, noodles, soup, dips, or salads to get its benefits.
Steam inhalation is a traditional home remedy for cold and flu. It can help break up mucus and clear the sinuses. A study found that the efficacy of steam inhalation with holy basil oil or leaves is more effective in providing relief from cough and congestion than steam alone (19). Add a handful to boiling water and let it steep for a minute off the heat. Then put a towel over your head and inhale the vapor. If you are using the oil, add a few drops to the bowl of water and inhale.
Prevention is better than cure, as the saying goes. But, can bronchitis be prevented? If yes, then how?
There are a number of ways in which you can reduce your risk of developing bronchitis.
- Avoid irritants.
- Quit smoking.
- Improve your immunity.
- Get vaccinated.
- Limit exposure to bacteria and viruses by washing hands regularly and maintaining personal hygiene.
Despite preventive measures and using home remedies, you may have the symptoms of bronchitis that don’t seem to improve. It may be a signal of some complication.
Complications Associated With Bronchitis
Bronchitis may lead to pneumonia, which is a serious complication requiring medical help and even hospitalization in some cases. In rare cases, it may also lead to severe respiratory syndrome or respiratory failure (5).
So, how do you decide when to call for professional medical assistance?
When To See A Doctor
The coughing and discomfort from bronchitis may keep you up at night and lead to sleep deprivation. If you feel that your condition is interfering with your sleep, you need to consult your doctor. You would also need to get in touch with your doctor immediately if you experience any of the severe symptoms of bronchitis like (5):
- A cough or wheezing that lasts beyond three weeks.
- Spotting of blood as you cough.
- Experiencing shortness of breath.
- Fever that is difficult to subside.
- Noticing unexplained weight loss.
- A deep, barking cough.
Acute bronchitis may often be the gateway to chronic bronchitis. In case you experience acute bronchitis frequently, consult your doctor. It may also lead to pneumonia, so you need to monitor your recovery and reach out for professional help if you believe your situation is not improving with home remedies for bronchitis.
The worrying symptoms of bronchitis may have gotten you tensed and looking for a quick way to cure bronchitis. Is there any? Let’s find out.
What Is The Fastest Way To Cure Bronchitis?
Are you wondering how to get rid of bronchitis or how to cure bronchitis fast? As with all physical conditions, recovery happens at its own pace. The best you can do to recover as quickly as possible from bronchitis is to drink plenty of warm fluids, get rest and stay away from smoke or other respiratory irritants. You can also use the home remedies for bronchitis mentioned above to speed up your recovery. Antibiotics are often prescribed to treat bronchitis but whether their benefits outweigh their adverse effects is debatable (20). If you think that you are not recovering with time, consult your physician.
To sum up, bronchitis, both acute and chronic, is caused when the bronchi are inflamed. There may be a number of causes that lead to acute bronchitis, however, viral infections are the most common. Home remedies for bronchitis are mostly focused on symptomatic relief and recovery support as acute bronchitis can go away by itself. In some cases, acute bronchitis may lead to complications and require immediate medical assistance.
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- Acute bronchitis
- Vapor, Dust and Smoke Exposure in relation to adult-onset asthma and chronic respiratory symptoms: The Singapore Chinese Health Study
- Muscle and Mucous Gland Size in the Major Bronchi of Patients with Chronic Bronchitis, Asthma and Asthmatic Bronchitis
- Upper Respiratory Tract Infection
- Acute Bronchitis
- Uncomplicated acute bronchitis
- Chronic Bronchitis
- The clinical utility of long-term humidification therapy in chronic airway disease
- Anti-inflammatory effects of myrtol standardized and other essential oils on alveolar macrophages from patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Essential oils in the treatment of respiratory tract diseases highlighting their role in bacterial infections and their anti‐inflammatory action: a review
- The effects of a hot drink on nasal airflow and symptoms of common cold and flu
- Honey and Health: A Review of Recent Clinical Research
- Effect of honey, dextromethorphan, and no treatment on nocturnal cough and sleep quality for coughing children and their parents
- Antiinflammatory effects of ginger and some of its components in human bronchial epithelial (BEAS-2B) cells
- Anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties of Curcuma longa (turmeric) versus Zingiber officinale (ginger) rhizomes in rat adjuvant-induced arthritis
- Antioxidant Properties of Popular Turmeric (Curcuma longa) Varieties from Bangladesh
- Effects of dietary antioxidants on the immune function of middle-aged adults
- The effect of Allium sativum (Garlic) extract on infectious bronchitis virus in specific pathogen free embryonic egg
- A comparative study to assess the effect of steam inhalation v/s Tulsi leaves inhalation on the sign and symptoms of cold and cough among adult group in selected areas of Pune city
- Antibiotics for acute bronchitis