Do you suffer from a nagging cough that just won’t go away? While these days most of us are first inclined to associate a cough with COVID-19, many other conditions can cause chronic coughing.
One common condition is allergic bronchitis or chronic bronchitis. Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes that carry air into your lungs. When you have bronchitis your airways produce too much mucus, making it difficult to breathe.
Unlike acute bronchitis, which usually resolves in a few days or weeks, chronic bronchitis lasts for several months and comes back two or more years in a row.
- Coughing that lasts for weeks or months
- Cough that produces white or clear mucus
- Pressure or tightness in chest
Causes and Risk Factors
Allergic bronchitis is caused by exposure to allergy triggers such as:
- Cigarette smoke
- Air pollution
- Chemical fumes
Your risk for either acute or chronic bronchitis is higher if you smoke, have asthma or allergies. If you live in an area with high levels of air pollution or work a job where you are regularly exposed to dust or chemical fumes, this also increases your risk. Women appear to have a higher chance of developing allergic bronchitis than men.
Other risk factors include:
- Being 45 or older
- Family history of lung disease
- History of childhood respiratory problems
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Tests and Treatments
If you think you might have allergic bronchitis, make an appointment with a doctor today. They will ask about your symptoms and use a stethoscope to listen to your lungs. To diagnose allergic bronchitis, you will likely have to undergo further testing such as:
- Sputum test: A mucus sample to check for an infection or allergies.
- Lung function test: Your doctor will have you blow into a spirometer to test the strength of your lungs as well as how much air they can hold.
- Chest x-ray: Imaging test to look for problems with your lungs.
There are several lifestyle changes your doctor might recommend to manage your symptoms.
- If you smoke, quit.
- Use a humidifier to help you breathe at night. You should be able to find one at Wholesale Appliance Center or another store near you.
- Wear a mask if you’re around known irritants like chemical fumes, dust and pollen.
- Practice breathing techniques to improve your breathing rate.
Prescription treatments and therapy
If your doctor suspects allergies are causing your chronic bronchitis, they’ll likely refer you to an allergist. They can confirm your allergens and prescribe allergy shots or other medication that can stop you from reacting to your allergy triggers.
Your doctor may also prescribe bronchodilators which help relax muscles around the airways and open them up, or steroids to help reduce swelling.
Additional treatments and lifestyle remedies may be recommended. If you have any questions about allergic bronchitis or wish to schedule an appointment, call Charleston ENT & Allergy today.