Since allergies affect our airways, can they turn into bronchitis? Allergic reactions cause inflammation of the airways, which results in problems breathing. While irritating the respiratory tract, this inflammation also increases mucus production. This then makes it even harder to breathe.
Bronchitis is by definition inflammation of the bronchial tubes. Bronchi are organs that carry air into the lungs. When a person takes a breath through the nose or mouth, air travels to the larynx, then the trachea, and to the bronchi.
There are two bronchi, left and right. The bronchi branch off smaller and smaller as they get into the lung tissues. The smaller bronchi, known as bronchioles, carry air to tiny sacs, or alveoli. This is where gas exchange takes place. Oxygen moves into the blood while carbon dioxide goes into the alveoli and exhaled.
There are a few ways someone may develop bronchitis, and allergies are one of them. Allergic bronchitis is the name of it. Meanwhile, asthma may cause asthmatic bronchitis. Infections could also cause the illness.
Allergic bronchitis is the inflammation of the bronchi caused by exposure to a substance that a person is allergic to. Breathing difficulty is further worsened due to excessive mucus caused by allergies. Individuals with bronchitis tend to have more mucus and phlegm compared with those who don’t.
Allergens such as dust, pollen, or mold are more likely to cause bronchitis from allergies. These allergens are all inhaled.
Smokers often have bronchitis because the smoke irritates their respiratory tract.
There are two categories of bronchitis. One is short-term while the other is chronic. Acute bronchitis is short-term and lasts 7-10 days.
Chronic bronchitis lasts longer than three months. It’s categorized as a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The second COPD is emphysema. With this condition, the alveoli weaken and rupture, allowing less oxygen to go into the blood. This makes breathing more difficult. Both chronic bronchitis and emphysema tend to worsen over time. They’re also found most often in smokers.
Symptoms of Bronchitis from Allergies
Acute and chronic bronchitis caused by allergies share some of the same symptoms. These symptoms include:
- Productive cough
- Shortness of breath
- Discomfort in the chest
- Clear, white, yellow, grey, or bloody sputum
- Fever and chills
If a fever is present, bacteria or viral infection caused bronchitis, not allergies.
Symptoms of acute bronchitis usually last up to ten days. Chronic bronchitis symptoms will. last from three months to two years. However, those with chronic bronchitis may also experience acute flair-ups due to infection.
How can you tell the difference between bronchitis and an allergic reaction? Take a look at the symptoms. The following are typical symptoms of an allergic reaction:
- Runny or itchy nose
- Watery, swollen eyes
- Itchy eyes
- Itchy skin rash
It’s important to know the difference between your symptoms to treat the cause.
Allergic Bronchitis Complications
Allergic bronchitis can also lead to complications like lung infections or pneumonia. Furthermore, pneumonia may complicate septicemia, a life-threatening infection in the bloodstream.
Seek medical attention if the following occurs:
- Cough lasts more than three weeks
- Cough worsens
- Fever of 100.4 F
- Bloody mucus
- Wheezing or shortness of breath
You should also call a doctor if these symptoms prevent you from sleeping or interfere with daily activities.
Diagnosis and Treatment
To diagnose allergic bronchitis, a doctor will perform a physical examination. They will listen to the heart and lungs with a stethoscope. Sputum tests can reveal if there is an infection or the allergen that triggered the symptoms.
It’s important to check for additional infections. Chest X-rays are helpful to detect pneumonia and other complications. To identify the presence of asthma or emphysema, doctors conduct pulmonary tests.
To treat bronchitis from allergies, you must manage the underlying cause – the allergy. Avoid exposure to the allergen and use medication to relieve symptoms.
Bronchodilators and Inhalers
You can treat both allergic and asthmatic bronchitis with bronchodilators or medicated inhalers. These relax the muscles around the airway to make breathing easier. The inhalers work for both acute and chronic bronchitis.
However, bronchodilators for acute bronchitis work fast, but in the short term. Long-acting bronchodilators need time to work but manage symptoms for a longer period.
You can also use steroid inhalers to decrease inflammation of the bronchi, coughing, and improve breathing.
You can also use mucolytic drugs to treat allergic bronchitis. This medicine thins the mucus and makes it less sticky. Therefore, you’ll have an easier time eliminating the mucus from your body.
When there’s a severe case of allergic bronchitis, doctors may use oxygen therapy. This therapy is only called for when oxygen levels are too low.
Pulmonary rehab classes are usually recommended for chronic bronchitis. They involve special breathing exercises designed to improve breathing. Some classes also teach people how to effectively reduce exposure to allergens.
A humidifier can help make the indoor air warm and moist. This can relieve a cough and loosen excess mucus. It’s important to properly maintain and clean the humidifier to avoid the accumulation of mold or bacteria.
If you have breathing problems and think your allergies turned into bronchitis, contact your doctor. A doctor who specializes in allergies or immunology is your best choice.
They will work with you to find the right treatment to manage your symptoms. Remember, the best way to avoid allergic bronchitis is to avoid allergens altogether.