The bronchi are the two main airwaves that branch down from the trachea (this is the airway that starts in the back of the throat and extends to the chest). The respiratory disease called bronchitis occurs when the walls of the bronchial tubes, or bronchi, become inflamed, causing more mucus to be produced. This makes the airwaves narrower and you breathe less air and oxygen into your lungs. Bronchitis sufferers frequently cough up thickened and discolored mucus. Bronchitis can also cause wheezing when you breathe, chest pain or discomfort, a low-grade fever, and shortness of breath.
There are two main types of bronchitis:
- Acute. This lasts from one to three weeks and is accompanied by the hacking cough we love to hate. There is also phlegm, which is often attributed to an upper respiratory infection. In most cases acute bronchitis is viral in origin; though sometimes it is the result of bacteria
- Chronic. The bronchitis lasts at least three months for two years in a row. Asthma sufferers are susceptible to chronic asthmatic bronchitis. This occurs when the lining of the bronchial tubes are inflamed
Other types of bronchitis are:
- Infectious. This typically occurs in the winter, a result of the influenza virus. Even after the virus has passed, the irritation of the bronchi may continue causing symptoms. This type of bronchitis may also be due to bacteria, particularly if it follows an upper respiratory infection. You can have both a viral and bacterial-based bronchitis simultaneously.
- Irritative. This is the result of exposure to mineral or vegetable dusts or fumes from strong acids, ammonia, organic solvents, or chlorine