Bronchitis is infection and inflammation of the mucus lining of the trachea and bronchi. It exists in both acute and chronic forms and usually develops as a sequel to upper respiratory infections such as cold or influenza. Other factors predisposing to bronchitis include cold, damp living conditions, foggy and dusty atmospheres, smoking and chronic mouth breathing, which allow unfiltered and un-warmed air to enter the bronchi. The condition occurs most frequently amongst elderly people, children and smokers of any age.
Bronchitis would be rare if people ate the right foods and their systems were not filled with mucus and poisonous waste matters, and if they were properly clothed. Where there is bronchitis there is invariably stomach trouble and constipation. It is brought on by changeable weather, catching cold, exposure, wet feet, chilling and insufficient ventilation.
Bronchitis becomes chronic when acute bronchitis is not properly treated and relieved. When a cold is allowed to run, it gets down into the bronchial tubes and lungs and becomes chronic. Often if it is not cured, it will finally go into consumption or tuberculosis of the lungs.
The initial symptom is an irritating, unproductive cough, accompanied by upper chest pain. As the bronchi become extensively involved, a sensation of tightness in the chest develops, and wheezing respiration and shortness of breath may also occur. This group of symptoms is also sometimes termed as 'eosinophilic' or 'wheezy bronchitis'. Respiratory distress and shortness of breath may be particularly severe when acute bronchitis complicates underlying chronic bronchitis or emphysema.
Sputum is at first scanty, mucoid and difficult to bring up. Occasionally it may be streaked with blood. One or two days later it becomes thick and micro-purulent. As the inflammation descends down the bronchial tree, a moderate fever usually develops. The vast majority of cases recover over the next four to eight days, without the patient ever becoming seriously ill.
Occasionally, the condition fails to resolve itself, and shortness of breath and other symptoms worsen, and fever continues to rise. This reflects that the body's vital resistance is lowered, so that inflammation has continued into the alveoli and lungs themselves. The patient is then suffering from pneumonia, and should be managed with high doses of antibiotics under a doctor's care.
Eosinophilia is a respiratory disorder with symptoms in common with both asthma and bronchitis and it is often difficult to decide which diagnostic label to assign to individual sufferers. The disorder is usually interpreted as a transition stage in respiratory diseases, when the sufferer from chronic cold or bronchitis is gradually evolving into a full blown state of asthma.
Eosinophilia is diagnosed when the percentage of eosinophils in the blood of the sufferer becomes elevated. Eosinophils are the white blood cells which mediate allergic and hypersensitivity reactions, and an elevated level suggests that the asthma like symptoms of the disease are an immune reaction by the lungs.
The disorder is thought to be an allergic response to various foreign proteins and drugs, and in tropical countries it appears as a complication of filaria and helminth infections. The disorder is common in industrial areas where air pollution is believed to be the major initiating factor. It is frequently diagnosed in children following investigation of persisting or recurrent cough and cold symptoms.
Medical treatment of eosinophilia is far from effective. The drug diethylcarbamazine is prescribed where filarial infection is suspected, but this drug is minimally effective in the long term. Where drugs or medicines are likely initiating factors, they must be discontinued. Frequently the condition is indistinguishable from chronic asthma.
Yoga therapy provides effective relief in cases of chronic bronchitis and eosinophilia and provides techniques for strengthening the weak and hypersensitive respiratory system. However, during an acute cough, cold or bronchitis, no asanas should be practised at ail and complete rest is necessary. Adopt the practice program gradually after the acute bout has subsided.