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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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
“Tips to Keep Your Lungs Healthy.” American Lung Association. http://www.lung.org/lung-health-and-diseases/protecting-your-lungs/
“Bronchitis.” The Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bronchitis/basics/definition/con-20014956
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.