Authored by Revere Health

Caring For Your Lungs: Preventing Bronchitis

April 19, 2017 | Internal Medicine

Bronchial tubes carry vital oxygen to and from the lungs. When these tubes become inflamed or stop functioning as well as they should, this is a condition called bronchitis.

Bronchitis can be caused by a respiratory infection or outside irritants and pollutants, and it can affect people both acutely and chronically. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to help reduce your risk of developing bronchitis. Here’s a look at the factors that can increase your risk and ways to keep your lungs healthy.


Bronchitis Risk Factors

Knowing the specific factors that can increase your risk of bronchitis is a good baseline for prevention. Some of the most common risk factors include:

  • Cigarettes: If you smoke, live with someone who smokes or are frequently exposed to secondhand smoke, you’re at higher risk of both acute and chronic bronchitis.
  • Irritants: If you work in a place that’s frequently exposed to irritants like grains, textiles or chemical fumes, or if you’re frequently close to these irritants for any other reason, your risk is higher.
  • Resistance: Whether due to another illness or a natural weakness in the immune system, a generally low immune resistance will make people more vulnerable to bronchitis. These conditions are more common in older people and younger children.
  • • Acid reflux and heartburn: Repeated heartburn can irritate the throat, which can lead to a higher likelihood of bronchitis.


Preventing Infection

Because most cases of bronchitis are caused by similar viruses to those that cause the cold or the flu, preventing infection from cold and flu viruses is a key factor in preventing bronchitis. A few specific tips for preventing your general exposure to these kinds of viruses include:

  • Avoid excess exposure to crowds: The more you venture into large groups of people, the greater your chances of coming into contact with a virus that might cause bronchitis. Avoiding big crowds where possible, especially during the cold and flu season, is a good first step.
  • Maintain proper hygiene: Hygiene is important in multiple areas. First there are the hands, which should be washed often with soap and water, or cleansed with an alcohol-based cleanser if soap and water are not available. Then there’s oral hygiene—germs that fester inside your mouth and throat can lead to infections that cause bronchitis. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day is recommended, and it’s important to see your dentist at least twice a year.
  • Get regular vaccinations: Not only will a yearly flu vaccine prevent you from getting the flu itself, it can also prevent many cases of bronchitis. For some people, the pneumonia vaccine may also be worthwhile—ask your doctor if this might be the case for you.
  • Keep your distance: This is a preventive measure for others that can help prevent the spread of bronchitis and other infections. Keep your distance from healthy people if you’re sick with a cold, flu or bronchitis infection.


Pollutant Exposure

Limiting your exposure to harmful air particles can also help prevent bronchitis, especially if you work or live near certain conditions. Avoid going outside for long periods of time if the air pollution is bad, and test your home for radon chemicals. For people with higher risk of lung conditions, wearing a mask in certain situations is recommended.


Cigarette Smoke

Cigarettes are the single largest cause of chronic bronchitis and a major factor in lung cancer and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Cigarette smoke causes inflammation that directly leads to bronchitis, and can destroy lung tissue over time. Quitting smoking and eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke can have a huge effect on your bronchitis risk and overall lung health.



The right kinds of aerobic exercises can help improve lung capacity and function, and can lower the risk of infection. For some people, breathing exercises are also helpful.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of bronchitis, or for more information on general prevention and lung health, speak to your doctor.


For patients in Utah County, our internists provide a wide variety of care for diseases, disease prevention and other illnesses for adolescents and adults. We offer immunizations, health management counseling for chronic conditions such as diabetes, physicals and screenings for hypertension, osteoporosis and sleep disorders.



“Tips to Keep Your Lungs Healthy.” American Lung Association.

“Bronchitis.” The Mayo Clinic.


The Live Better Team

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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.