Bronchitis is a term that means inflammation of the bronchi in the lungs. These bronchi connect the trachea or the windpipe to the lungs. The bronchi are lined by a protective lining known as the mucus membrane. The mucus membrane secretes mucus. In case of bronchitis, there is inflammation if the mucus membrane. This results in excessive production of mucus. The person suffering from bronchitis complains of cough, with or without the production of sputum.
Bronchitis is classified into two main types- Acute bronchitis and Chronic bronchitis.
Causes of Acute Bronchitis
The causes of acute bronchitis are listed below:
- The most common cause of acute bronchitis is viral infections
In case of acute bronchitis, the inflammation of the bronchi is caused mainly due to viral infections such as common cold, influenza and acute sinusitis. The viral infection spreads to the respiratory system and attacks the bronchi. The bronchi and the bronchioles become inflamed and the person complains of acute bronchitis.
- Acute bronchitis can be caused due to air pollution
The pollutants in the air can cause irritation of the bronchi, causing them to inflame. This is another common cause of acute bronchitis.
- An attack of acute bronchitis may also be triggered by dust
Dust can trigger the onset of acute bronchitis in some people. This occurs especially when traveling on long trips on dusty roads, or cleaning dusty surfaces, when the person inhales dust which acts as an irritant to the bronchi.
- An attack of acute bronchitis can be brought on after exposure to ammonia
Many cleaning products contain ammonia. When a person is using these cleaning products for cleaning bathrooms or tiles, he becomes exposed to ammonia. The chemical irritant then causes the bronchi to inflame, resulting in an attack of acute bronchitis.
- An attack of acute bronchitis may be a frequent occurrence in people with lung problems
People with lung problems such as asthma or pope suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease often suffer from recurrent attacks of acute bronchitis. This is because their bronchi and bronchioles are already in a state of chronic inflammation. Any exposure to irritants such as smoke, air pollution or cold air triggers the attack.
- Acute bronchitis is common in people with low immunity
Acute bronchitis can also be caused due to low immunity, especially in people recovering from chronic illness, trauma or a major surgery.
Causes of Chronic Bronchitis
The major cause of chronic bronchitis is smoking. The smoke contains irritants that cause inflammation of the bronchi and the bronchioles. This results in excessive secretion of mucus and production of sputum. As a result of this, the person suffers from chronic cough accompanied with sputum. Chronic bronchitis can also be caused due to long term exposure to occupational pollutants such as cotton, flax and dust. It can also be caused as a result of chronic exposure to chemical fumes from ammonia, strong acids, chlorine, hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide or bromine.
Causes of Bacterial Bronchitis
Bacterial bronchitis is usually caused by bacteria such as streptococcus pneumoniae, haemophilus influenzae, or moraxella catarrhalis.