Bronchitis

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Bronchitis Guide

Alison Beaver

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ask: Allergies or Bronchitis in the Works?

After a long, hot summer, we're going into a humid Fall. I've been fighting ragweed and other pollen-induced allergic reactions, plus the junk that blows through the air vents at work. For the past couple of days, I've had a sort of scratchy feeling in my chest and the slight difficulty in breathing makes me feel tired.

How do you know if it's just allergies, or bronchitis in the works?

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Diane Porter

Samiam, you didn't say if you had a cough or not? A cough is one of the primary symptoms of bronchitis.

There's a lot of crossover between allergy symptoms and bronchitis symptoms, and in fact, the former can lead to the latter.

You're well aware of allergy symptoms -- sneezing, congestion, watery and/or itchy eyes and, if you have severe allergies, occasional difficulty breathing.

Symptoms of bronchitis do include shortness of breath and chest tightness, but also a dry cough that tends to worsen throughout the day and that later often brings up phlegm. Fatigue and wheezing are also symptoms.

There are two kinds of bronchitis; acute, and chronic. Both indicate inflammation of the bronchial tubes, which lead to the lungs. Chronic bronchitis is most often present in people with another underlying condition, and can come and go for years. Acute bronchitis lasts generally for a few weeks and often begins after a respiratory infection. Smoking or exposure to smoke can also be factors.

If you have a cough, here's a web page that helps you evaluate the differences between coughs in colds, flu, allergies and bronchitis:

http://coldflu.about.com/od/whentoseeadoctor/ss/checksymcough.htm

If you haven't had a cold, a cough or a respiratory infection, chances are you're still dealing with allergies alone. However, allergies can easily lead to sinus or respiratory infections, which in turn can lead to bronchitis. Here's a Mayo Clinic page explaining bronchitis:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/bronchitis/DS00031

The treatment page suggests extra rest, plenty of liquids and a nonprescription cough medicine. If you develop that troublesome cough, however, you might want to see your doctor, especially now with temperature changes and winter on the way.

October 15, 2008 - 8:35am
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