Asthma bronchitis refers to the occurrence of acute bronchitis in an asthmatic person. Acute bronchitis is a respiratory disease that causes inflammation in the bronchi, which are the passageways that allow air to enter and leave the lungs. This inflammation causes respiratory congestion and shortness of breath. Asthma is a disease that causes inflammation in the respiratory tract that causes shortness of breath, chronic cough, chest tightness and wheezing.
Acute bronchitis is a common respiratory disease in the United States. Infants, young children, and elderly people are at the highest risk of developing acute bronchitis. Acute bronchitis is usually caused by upper respiratory viral infections. If you have asthma, your risk of acute bronchitis increases due to increased susceptibility to respiratory irritation and inflammation. If you smoke or are exposed to air pollution, your risk of acute bronchitis also increases.
Signs and symptoms of asthma bronchitis vary from person to person, depending on the severity of the infection. Bronchitis treatment consists of antibiotics, bronchodilators, anti-inflammatory drugs and pulmonary hygiene techniques such as chest percussion (medical treatment where the respiratory therapist taps the patient’s chest) and postural drainage (medical treatment in which the patient is placed in a slightly inverted position to encourage sputum excretion).
What are the symptoms of asthma bronchitis?
Symptoms are related to inflammation of the lung airways and can vary in intensity between patients.
Common symptoms of asthma bronchitis
You may experience persistent or occasional asthma bronchitis symptoms. At times, any of these asthma symptoms can be severe:
- Chest pain or pressure
- Dry, phlegmless cough (wet, phlegmatic cough suggestive of infection)
- Shortness of breath or rapid breathing (tachypnea)
- Wheezing (whistling sound made with breath)
Serious symptoms that could indicate a life-threatening condition
In some cases, bronchitis can be life threatening. If you or someone you are with has any of these life-threatening symptoms, including the following, seek emergency medical help (call 112):
- Bluish coloration of the lips or nails
- Change in level of consciousness or alertness, such as fainting or unresponsiveness
- Breathing or breathing problems such as shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, wheezing, shortness of breath or choking
What causes asthma bronchitis?
Asthma bronchitis refers to the development of acute bronchitis in connection with asthma (a disorder that affects the lungs and is characterized by narrowing of the airway leading to shortness of breath, tightness of the chest and wheezing). Acute bronchitis is a respiratory disease that causes inflammation in the bronchi, which are the passageways that allow air to enter and exit the lungs. Inflammation causes respiratory congestion and shortness of breath. Asthma is the most common cause of bronchitis, an upper viral respiratory infection.
What are the risk factors for asthma bronchitis?
A number of factors associated with asthma increase the risk of bronchitis. Asthmatic bronchitis is not seen in all people with asthma who are exposed to risk factors. Risk factors or triggers for asthma bronchitis include:
- Air pollution
- Animal fluff
- Jobs related to livestock, grain, textile and coal mining
- Pre-existing lung disease
- To smoke
- Upper respiratory infections
Reduce your risk of asthma bronchitis
You can reduce your risk of asthma bronchitis by:
- Getting pneumococcal or annual flu vaccinations
- Maintaining good hygiene by always washing your hands to prevent the spread of infection
- Avoiding smoking and passive smoking
- Taking all medications as prescribed, even if you have no symptoms
How is asthma bronchitis treated?
Asthma bronchitis treatment begins with seeking medical advice from your doctor. The aim of asthma bronchitis treatment is to reduce bronchospasm due to asthma and to reduce the obstruction caused by acute bronchitis. Asthma medications include long-term asthma control medications to prevent asthma attacks, which are especially important in the case of acute bronchitis. In case of an asthma attack, short-term asthma medications are given. Acute bronchitis is not normally treated with antibiotics because the most common cause is a viral infection. Expectorants help the thin mucus in the airways, making it easier to cough up mucus.
What are the potential complications of asthma bronchitis?
Untreated or poorly controlled complications of asthma bronchitis can be serious and, in some cases, even life-threatening. By following the treatment plan and your doctor’s specific plan, you can help minimize your risk of serious complications. Asthma bronchitis complications include:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including emphysema and chronic bronchitis
- Frequent respiratory infections
- Lung inflammation
- Pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries)
- Respiratory Failure