see also Bronchiolitis
Inflammation of mucous membranes lining airways in lungs (bronchi and bronchioles); may be acute or chronic.
Usually caused by same viruses which cause Colds, Laryngitis, and Influenza, and can be very serious in elderly people or people with Heart Failure. Symptoms include Fever, a painful Cough which brings up glutinous yellow sputum, difficult breathing, and wheezing; cold or damp air, and environmental irritants, tend to make symptoms worse. Symptoms wear off within about 10 days, but full recovery may take up to 4 weeks. If resistance is low, inflammation may become chronic. Antibiotics are only given if there is secondary bacterial infection, otherwise orthodox treatment is limited to bronchodilator drugs or cough suppressants. If homeopathic remedies below do not relieve symptoms within the dose period, or if temperature rises above 39º C (lO2º F), or phlegm has blood in it, or breathing gets extremely difficult, consult your doctor if there is no improvement in 2 hours and give Ferrum phos. 6c every 10 minutes for up to 10 doses.
Membranes lining airways are more or less permanently inflamed, chiefly affects people over 50, men three times as often as women; main causes are smoking and air pollution, although cold damp weather and Obesity are aggravating factors. Over-secretion of mucus obstructs airways mucous membranes thicken and cause airways to narrow, and muscles lining airways contract. Early symptom is coughing in the morning, so-called 'smoker's cough'; gradually, amount of phlegm coughed up increases, coughing occurs throughout day, and breathlessness and wheezing become more or less permanent; at this stage, even a minor cold can cause serious illness. Complications include pulmonary hypertension, emphysema, Pneumonia, and Heart Failure; cancer of the lung (see Cancer is also a risk if bronchitis is caused by smoking.
If person has been coughing up phlegm most days of the week for at least 3 months, and if this has happened for 2 years running, he or she almost certainly has chronic bronchitis and should see medical doctor. If signs of respiratory failure develop (severe shortness of breath, bluish lips) dial 999 and give First Aid.
Orthodox treatment is to prescribe bronchodilator drugs by inhaler or antibiotics. Homeopathic treatment is constitutional; during acute episodes the remedies given above for acute bronchitis should be tried.
Acute bronchitis - Specific remedies to be taken every 2 hours for up to 2 days
- Dry, stabbing, painful cough, headache, chest pain relieved by supporting elbows on back of chair, great thirst Bryonia 30c
- Tight, dry, tickling cough, person pale, anxious, eager for reassurance, wants frequent drinks of iced water Phosphorus 30c
- Bronchitis comes on suddenly, dry, staccato cough, fever, symptoms aggravated by cold dry air, person chilly, restless, and anxious Aconite 30c
- Bronchitis in an infant or elderly person, accumulated phlegm causes rattling sound in chest, sufferer too weak to cough it up Antimonium tart. 30c
- Sudden onset, high temperature, pounding headache, flushed face, delirium, symptoms worse at night and when lying down Belladonna 30c
- Nausea, vomiting, suffocating feeling in chest Ipecac. 30c
- Stringy phlegm, difficulty coughing it up, person feels worse between 4 and 5 am Kali bichrom. 30c
- Gasping for air, skin cold and clammy, desire to be fanned, especially if sufferer is elderly Carbo veg. 30c
- Coughing causes involuntary passing of urine Causticum 30c
- Choking cough made worse by uncovering any part of body, person chilly and irritable Hepar sulph.30c
- Symptoms get worse lying down or in stuffy rooms, cough is dry at night but loose in morning, lack of thirst Pulsatilla 30c
Chronic bronchitis - Self-help: Stop smoking, and avoid smoke-filled atmospheres. To raise phlegm, inhale steam (fill a bowl with boiling water, lean over the bowl with a towel over your head, and inhale). if attack is bad, stay in bed for 2 or 3 days, put a hot-water bottle on your chest, and drink lots of hot drinks. If bronchitis is chronic, avoid cold, damp, dusty, or polluted air - this may mean moving house or changing your job - and keep away from people who have colds and sore throats; regular supplements of Vitamins B, C, and A, and zinc, are also advisable. You should also avoid refined carbohydrates.