When the cold and flu season combines with ever increasing air and food related pollutants, it should come as no surprise that more and more people are winding up with bronchitis.
People that have already tried antibiotics, steroids, and other conventional drugs are likely to be wondering if there is a better answer. Because bronchitis can do damage to your lungs, it is very important to be informed about alternatives and also vigorously discuss the matter with your doctor. This includes demanding appropriate tests to find out how your lung function has changed and making sure that you get the correct treatment for your condition.
What is Bronchitis?
More than a few people are afraid to investigate what their doctors tell them because the way doctors explain medical jargon can be just as bad as the words themselves. While you may be familiar with the term “bronchitis”, you may not realize that separating the word into two parts will help you decipher a key to medical jargon. If you look at medical jargon that ends in “itis”, in most cases you can conclude that the word is referring to body tissue or an organ that is swollen up (inflamed) for one reasons or another.
Here are some possible reasons:
- Inflammation can occur because of physical injury to the organ or tissue. For example, if you get hit in the head with a baseball, the area where you were hit will swell up.
- Inflammation can also occur when tissues become irritated by something you are allergic to. As a case in point, if you are allergic to some drug or other, your tongue and throat may swell.
- Another common source of inflammation is infection. In these cases, the swollen area my be filled with pus and tissue that has broken down (essentially rotting).
- It should be noted that inflammation and tumors are not considered the same thing. Inflammation refers to the resident tissue. An organ that has a tumor in it will appear and feel enlarged, however the tissue surrounding the tumor may not be swollen or distended. If the surrounding tissue does become inflamed, it may be because of injury, an infection, or an allergic response not directly related to the tumor.
Regardless of the reason why an organ or tissue is inflamed, the immune system is usually responsible. When you have an injury, an infection, or an allergy, the tissue affected sends signals that it is in danger. These chemical signals cause blood vessels to leak out more fluid into the area, which serves to increase the number of immune system cells (white blood cells). The higher volume of white blood cells increases the capacity of your body to fight any infections before they get further into the body or do more damage to the area in question.
Once you understand that “itis” is a swelling or inflammation, all you have to do is figure out which organ or tissue is being referred to. In this case, “bronch” “itis” refers to the bronchial passages or airways in your lungs. As big and scary as this word may seem, all it means is that your bronchial passages are swollen.
If you had a cold, the flu, or some other respiratory infection, then your bronchial passages can become inflamed from all the sneezing, coughing, wheezing, and other symptoms. Unfortunately, the tissue may not go back down to a normal size, and the condition can become chronic. Depending on the situation, you may or may not be able to eliminate the triggers that create chronic bronchitis so that your air passages can heal and return to a normal size. The longer your air passages are inflamed, the greater the risk of scar tissue developing in the air passages, which puts added strain on the smaller air passages, and ultimately the alveoli (the tiny sacs that do the work of adding oxygen to your blood an removing carbon dioxide). This, in turn, can lead to other serious respiratory conditions and eventually cost your life.
Never, ever take bronchitis as “something you can handle on your own” when medical providers are available. If your doctor does not take your condition seriously enough, cannot answer all your questions, or you do not see improvement, get a second opinion. This is also a good time to contact the licensing board for your state and your insurance carrier. When you do not speak up about insufficient recovery, lack of appropriate testing, or lack of sufficient knowledge base, lawmakers and insurance carriers don’t recognize the scope of the problem or that different protocols may be required. While they may not penalize the doctor for following incorrect protocols, dozens may just cause a reconsideration of cookie cutter medical policies.
Depending on your doctor and your health insurance carrier, the doctor may simply listen to your lungs and tell you that you have bronchitis. From there, they may give you any number of drugs and tell you that it can take weeks or months before you recover. If you are very lucky, you will get better and not have a relapse. If you aren’t so lucky, eventually you will wind up in and out of the hospital and taking the following tests. As the situation gets worse, you can expect to lose time at work as well as become less able to manage other activities in your life. You may also suffer any number of complications that come with being unable to breathe properly.
Right now, insurance related clinical treatment protocols essentially dictate what tests and diagnosis a doctor make. Up until just a few months ago, it is entirely possible these protocols were based on federal guidelines that are no longer available online. It is highly possible your doctor will tell you that they think you don’t need these tests, even though the fact is they are being told what to do behind the scenes by people that are using a “one size fits all” set of protocols.
Regardless of what your symptoms are, or the suspicions of the doctor, they may not be able to order the following tests until your condition gets worse. By that time, you will be exposed to another group of drugs designed to “manage” your worsening condition. Unfortunately, it is impossible to determine the role big pharma had in developing these cradle to grave protocols and how the testing is done at each stage.
As I have previously mentioned, the only way to resolve this problem is if enough people file complaints with the state licensing board, their insurance carriers, and lawmakers. Unless enough people start talking about the problem of cookie cutter cradle to gave medicine and demanding change; nothing useful will get done. While you may have to do a considerable amount of research at creditable sites, it will be well worth the effort to know you can take part in improving the healthcare system in the United States without shoving mandatory health coverage down everyone’s throat.
- Chest Xray – this simple test will reveal how inflamed your bronchial passages are as well as if there is any indication of pneumonia. Do not forget that chest xrays expose your body to ionizing radiation. If you take this test too soon, you will wind up taking it again if it begins to sound like you are developing pneumonia. While your doctor may want to wait on this test, some of the others listed here might seem a better option.
- Phlegm Culture – basically, this test takes a sample of the mucus you are coughing up and analyzing it for the presence of bacteria or other pathogens. Since it can take several days for the labs to return the results, many doctors claim it is of little or no use in the early stages of bronchitis. Instead, they will give you an antibiotic “just in case”. Quite frankly, in my opinion, this is the kind of shot in the dark guess that can cost you a lot as time goes on. First, there is no telling if the pathogen in your body is actually susceptible to the antibiotic chosen by your doctor. If your doctor’s guess wrong, you can wind up with pneumonia. This will entail using stronger antibiotics and may also require the use of steroids that can damage your adrenals. Adrenal damage, in turn, can increase your risk for diabetes and a whole host of other problems. Given the number of antibiotics that are almost useless because of their use on commercial meat farms and improper ordering by doctors, there is a chance the antibiotic will not work on your infection. The only way to find out what bacteria is present and what they are susceptible to is to use the phlegm culture. While it may take a few days to get the results, at least your doctor will know which antibiotic to start you on for best results.
- Spirometry – When you take a spirometry test, you will basically blow several times into a tube as hard as you can. The machine at the other end of the tube will measure how much pressure you were able to put into each exhale as well as how much air you were able to move out of your lungs. This is yet another test that relatively few doctors do once they make a diagnosis of bronchitis. If you do not have this test early on, it will be difficult, if not impossible to pinpoint when you started having an increased reduction in lung capacity. Later on, if a doctor does order a spirometry test, they may also include a session with drugs (including inhaled steroids) that open up your airways. If you have an improvement, they may tell you that you need to take that drug. On the other hand, if you can find out about reductions in your lung function soon enough, it gives you a better chance to correct environmental, diet, and other factors that may be irritating your bronchial passages. Once you are on these drugs you will also have to deal with the side effects as well as problems that can come with trying to get off them.
- O2 Saturation Levels – These are measured with a small device that is usually placed on your finger. It gives a rough estimate of how much oxygen is in your blood. While it is not as accurate as drawing arterial blood, it is still useful for measuring oxygen levels with a minimal amount of invasion. Today, many doctors use a pulse oximeter test as part of a routine medical exam. You can also purchase a pulse oximeter and test yourself at home. If you have bronchitis, it does no harm to measure your oxygen levels several times a day. Use the oximeter when you are at rest as well as during exertion so that you have some ideas about your normal levels. Today, you can also purchase fitness watches that will monitor oxygen levels, pulse, and blood pressure. These values can also be very useful for comparison as your condition improves or gets worse. While these devices are not approved for medical diagnosis, you can still take readings in real time at the doctors office to see how accurate your watch is compared to their devices.
- Blood CO2 and Oxygen Levels – if you are having a hard time getting air in and out of your lungs, CO2 levels may also be rising to an abnormal level. At the same time, oxygen levels may be going too low. Some people will tell you that the lowest safe range on a home test is between 90 and 94%. Once your oxygen levels go too low, it can spiral into a very dangerous condition that does long term damage to your body. When you go to the emergency room, the attending doctor may order arterial based blood CO2 and Oxygen level tests. They may also order a vein based electrolyte panel that may indicate whether or not you have some form of metabolic or respiratory acidosis in progress.
Keep Your Lungs Moving
If you have ever sprained a joint or had some other injury that causes inflammation, then you may instinctively want to keep it as immobilized as possible while it heals. While this practice may be the best course in the early stages of the injury, there is also a time when you have to start working that joint again in order to improve strength and flexibility.
When it comes to your lungs, there is no such thing as a time when they can rest. There are only times when they must work harder and times when they don’t have to work as hard. No matter whether you are walking or sleeping, it is very important to keep track of the air flow through the upper, mid, and lower lung fields. Simply breathing faster won’t optimize your lung motion if it is shallow. In this case, keeping your lungs moving refers to the need to make sure that all of your lung fields are inflating and emptying. You can ask your doctor for some exercises that will help you achieve this goal. As you work more with these exercises, you may also want to combine them with meditation to reduce stress and to help your body relax.
At some point, you will also need to walk more or engage in other activities that make you breathe faster and harder. Try to avoid sudden changes in air temperature as this can also irritate your lungs. If you bring up mucus, make sure it is not green or tinged with blood. Either of these problems should prompt you to go the emergency room. While the blood may be from excessive coughing, it can also mean that pneumonia is setting in. It is best to be on the safe side rather than wind up with a sudden fever, chills, and other signs of pneumonia.
Reduce Intake of Foods that Increase Mucus Production
Even though the rates of asthma and other respiratory problems are increasing at an alarming rate in the Untied States, very little attention is being paid to foods that increase mucus production. Unfortunately, if your lungs have already been compromised by an infection, these foods will make it even harder to recover. The longer your bronchial passages remain inflamed, the greater risk they will develop scar tissue. Therefore, even if you don’t have an allergy to the foods listed below, it may be of some use to stay way from them for a few months. Once you are sure your bronchitis isn’t going to come back, you can try consuming these foods again. Needless to say, you can also stop consuming these foods when you have a respiratory infection in order to make breathing as easy as possible.
- Dairy products – as delightful as milk and cheese may taste, they are the most common cause of increased mucus production. At the current time, there is a considerable amount of controversy over whether or not dairy products lead to an increase in mucus production. This particular belief has its origin in history, while modern researchers claim there is no evidence of an increase in mucus secretion associated with dairy products.
On the other side of the equation, research from the 1990’s and up until 2010 did not take into account the fact that dairy products have been proven to increase mucus production in the intestinal tract. At the same time, a growing body of evidence shows that the intestinal tract plays an enormous role in the immune response. Even though conditions like “leaky gut” are increasingly being implicated in rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and other disorders, researchers have not yet looked at the possibility that some people do in fact have increased mucus production when exposed to dairy; and that the pathway involves the intestines. Given the fact that people with asthma are in this group of individuals, it should be of immense concern to anyone that is aware of the increasing asthma rates in the United States.
- Eliminate Exposure to Glyphosate – Leaky gut syndrome refers to a situation where there is a weakness in the connections between intestinal cells. Basically, these “tight junctions” become loose and allow molecules (and possibly pathogens) to get out of the intestines and into the bloodstream. Once these molecules get out, they may harbor in the joints or other parts of the body where they trigger immune responses or other problems. This includes causing mental disorders when they are able to get into the brain and nervous system.
Interestingly enough, newer studies reveal that Glyphosate (which is found in Monsanto’s Roundup) can cause leaky gut syndrome, as well as depletion of vital minerals. Even if the Glyphosate residue is in grains and other foods, it can have a harmful impact on your intestines. Unfortunately, there is no way to tell at this time if the FDA levels deemed safe are, in fact, non-damaging to human health. Once leaky gut sets in, it should come as no surprise that consuming dairy might just lead to increased mucus production. If your body is trying to heal, it seems that exposure to Glyphosate will add insult to injury and possibly trap you in a cycle of taking steroids, antibiotics, other drugs and hospital stays.
While you are trying to recover from bronchitis, it is best to consume certified organic, non-GMO foods. Unfortunately, if you do not grow your own foods or do not live near a small organic farm, it may be very difficult to obtain foods that aren’t contaminated with Glyphosate. Remember, there are many scandals at this time about foods that are labeled as organic or “non-GMO” that are either substandard or grown and harvested using herbicides such as Glyphosate.
Take Steps to Improve Air Quality
As obvious as it may seem, the more pollution you breathe in, the more irritated your bronchial passages and lung tissues will become. No matter how much you may be able tolerate when you aren’t sick, that doesn’t mean you will have the same tolerance while you are healing. Therefore, no matter where you live, it is very important to take steps to keep the air you breathe as clean as possible. Here are some things you will need to do:
- Filter the air in your home. In most cases, central heating ducts are filthy and expensive to have cleaned. When combined with substandard fans on the heating system and insufficient filtered inlets, you have a recipe for polluted air in your home. In fact, indoor pollutants can be double, triple, or higher than the amount found in an outdoor setting because of poor air circulation. You can use DIY box fan filtration systems as a relatively cheap, easy way to clean the air while your lungs are healing and beyond.
- One of the most distressing things about breathing problems is revolves around walking into a store and having to go down the soap aisle. When other people in the store are drenched in enough stinky perfume, aftershave or other scent products to knock over a zombie, the situation can get even worse. Without a question, if you have a tendency to gag around these odors and want to hold your nose, having bronchitis will make you even more miserable. Fortunately, there is an answer to your problem in the form of activated carbon medical masks. These masks are commonly worn throughout Asia. While they are not (but should be) as common in the United States, anyone that works in a nail salon or exposed to similar chemicals will wear these masks to filter out the chemicals. When you are suffering from bronchitis, this is the best way to reduce airborne chemical exposure while you are away from home. Depending on where you live, you will also need a letter from your doctor stating that it is medically necessary to wear the mask. If your employer has a problem, this note should also help resolve that issue. Alternatively, if you usually stay in just one room during work hours, it might be best to install a fan with a suitable filter system on it.
- Do not forget about improving the air quality in your vehicle. While you can wear a mask while driving, it will also help to keep a window partially opened as long as you aren’t driving through a city or other polluted area. In addition, it may also be of some use to look for recalls associated with the exhaust and emission systems for your vehicle. As a case in point, many people that purchased Ford Explorer vehicles may not realize that the emissions system in their vehicle is leaking carbon monoxide and other pollutants into the driver/passenger area of the vehicle. If you have headaches, dizziness, or other signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, there is no telling what else may be leaking into the air in your vehicle. This includes other tailpipe emissions that may make bronchitis worse. Sadly, even though the carbon monoxide scandal has been going on for several months, it seems many people that had their vehicles fixed are still having problems.
Stop Primary and Second Hand Smoking!
If you smoke cigarettes or other tobacco products it may seem like they are a lifeline in times of joy, stress, pain, and sorrow. Sadly, when something become such an intimate part of your life, it may not matter that:
- Nicotine is the most addictive substance on Earth,
- Tobacco takes up radioactive materials from the soil,
- Or that your risk of developing heart disease, lung, and mouth cancers skyrocket when you smoke.
It should come as no surprise that smoking tobacco products will also make it harder to get over bronchitis while increasing your risk of getting sicker with every cold or infection you wind up getting. While you may not want to give up smoking, you may have to do so if you want to get over bronchitis and keep it from coming back. It should also be noted that vaping is also very dangerous to your health and may not be something that will make getting over bronchitis any easier.
Today, there are many drugs and therapy programs that can help you quit smoking. This includes hypnosis programs as well as more conventional smoking cessation counseling. If you are concerned about the side effects from smoking cessation drugs, then you may want to try counseling first. While it can be very hard to stop smoking, it will save you money and your health regardless of whether or not you have bronchitis.
As we learn more about second hand smoke, it is becoming ever more apparent that any exposure to tobacco products can increase your risk for heart and lung related ailments. If you are in a setting where you are exposed to second hand smoke, and know you cannot prevent exposure, the best thing you can do is wear an activated carbon mask. No matter how sociable or “cool” you want to be, there is no point to exposing yourself to these toxic fumes and making yourself even sicker.
Have you ever noticed that your breathing rate and depth changes based on whether you are feeling relaxed or stressed? When you are trying to get over bronchitis, your airways are already stressed and constricted enough without adding mental and emotional weight to the problem. Try using binaurals or other meditational aides to help relax your mind and body. It is also very important to reduce stress as much as possible. Here are some things that may help you get better and also improve your life going forward:
- Turn off the cell phone, the computer, and the tablet when you are sleeping. No one should need to reach you at 3 AM that can’t already take care of themselves. This is the time when your body needs to be resting and recuperating so that you can go about the next day in the best condition possible.
- Set appropriate boundaries in your relationships. This is as good a time as any to think about what you want to have in your family, work, and social life. If someone is aggravating you, or you are at an impasse, consider walking away from the situation or have a meaningful and constructive conversation in order to create change. This is especially important if you feel your chest tightening when you come into contact with certain people. The worse you feel in your lungs, the harder it will be to get better.
- Set aside time each day for you – this is the perfect time to engage in a hobby or even work on your survival skills. No matter whether you want to knit a sweater, tend a new herb garden, or learn how to make a fishing pole, even a half hour each day can help you relax and focus your attention on longer term prepping goals.
- Resolve to resolve your problems instead of avoid them. This is easily one of the hardest, yet most important things you can do. The longer you remain in an “impossible” situation, the more pain you will feel, and the harder it will get to escape. Even if you start off with something as simple as writing out a passage from the Bible and keeping it on your desk, it is a beginning that will make the next step(s) easier.
Investigate Pollution Sources and Demand Change
Today, far too many people have been brainwashed into believing that clean air, clean water, and safe food are things that only “liberals” have an interest in because they want to stifle industry or create a crisis that doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, other parts of the world that have greater amounts of polluting industries are learning that increased wealth means nothing when you don’t have clean air and clean water. As a case in point, when it comes to polluted air, people in China cannot go outdoors without wearing face masks if they wish to stay healthy. In fact, the situation is so bad it is estimated that as many as 4000 people each day die in China because of air pollution.
It is no secret that the last few decades of decreased industrial production in the United States has led to a draining of our wealth and potential as a nation. Sadly, driving bigger cars made with parts from overseas factories has left us with a huge trade deficit and an enormous air pollution crisis that threatens us all. When you get cancer because of exposure to air pollution, suddenly suffer from asthma, or cannot recover from bronchitis, it does not matter what party you voted for or what political party you belong to. These toxins will damage your body even as it costs a fortune in time and money to reverse the disease you are trying to deal with.
While you may be very interested in any number of herbal remedies, new medical techniques, new drugs, or new conventional medical techniques to manage bronchitis, there is no substitute for solving the problem where it starts. In this case, we have only to look to China and other nations that have higher degrees of pollution than the United States to see what is likely to happen here as our own air quality gets worse.
Regardless of your political affiliation, the leaders that represent you will do what you ask them so long as you express yourself politely, in large numbers, and with your wallet closed to those businesses that want to go on polluting. If you arrive at the conclusion that smog and other air pollution are too dangerous to remain unchecked, then you can and should tell your leaders you want something done to make these companies clean up the mess they made.
You must also take steps to investigate all companies that pollute the air as part of their manufacturing processes, or use polluting fuels for operation. Given the fact that many of these products come from overseas, shutting your wallet to them, for starters, may just be the best thing you can do for your health. It will also help reduce the trade deficit that President Trump is working so hard to get under control. Never forget that the power of your wallet is every bit as powerful as the power of your vote.
If you are currently dealing with bronchitis, have had it in the past, or are concerned about winding up with this condition, there isn’t enough time to reverse the underlying pollution and other problems that need to be addressed. At the same time, if you aren’t getting satisfaction from your doctor, there are some herbal remedies that might be of use to you. Here are some herbs that might be of interest to you:
- Garlic – garlic serves at least two purposes when you have bronchitis or other infections. First, it is one of the few remedies, natural or otherwise, that will kill off bacterial, fungal, and (some) viral infections. Second, garlic also has a well established track record for being an anti-inflammatory. Do not use garlic with blood thinners as it also has the same effect on the blood. Use with caution with other herbs that also serve to thin the blood such as ginger.
- Ginger – if you don’t like the taste of garlic raw or cooked, then ginger may be more appealing to you. Ginger will also kill off many pathogens and will soothe your stomach at the same time. Ginger is also an excellent anti-inflammatory, but should also be avoided with blood thinners. You can use ginger as a tea or mix it with food.
- Turmeric – turmeric can also kill off some pathogens and is as good as, if not better than garlic when it comes to managing inflammation. It is best to use turmeric as a tea from a certified organic source. Unfortunately, there are many turmeric spices on the market that are contaminated with heavy metals and other toxins because of the soil they were grown in.
- Oregano – personally speaking, this is one of my favorite go to herbal teas when it comes to sinus infections and other respiratory inflammations. While the tea is quite pungent, it can and will open your airways quickly and provide relief for several hours. Oregano is also one of the few herbs that has a proven record for killing pathogens in sinus tissue.
- Marshmallow Root – while marshmallow root may not have anti-pathogen molecules in it, you can still use it to thin mucus secretions and open up airways. Of all the herbs listed in this article, you are likely to find this one has the most appealing taste insofar as teas. Just be aware that if you do choose to use marshmallow root, do not use other herbs or drugs 2 hours before or 2 hours after as this herb can reduce absorption of various molecules.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar can open up both sinus and bronchial airways quickly and safely. When purchasing apple cider vinegar, be sure to choose a bottle that includes the “mother”. This is the cloudy stuff at the bottom of the bottle that helps improve the value of the vinegar. It is also very important to choose a reliable organic brand.
If you want to make your own apple cider vinegar, all you need are some fresh apples, sugar, and water. Just make sure you don’t wind up making Apple Jack or hard cider instead of vinegar! If you are interested in trying to make a medicinal form of apple wine, you will need a viable recipe as well as the proper herbs for the condition you are trying to manage.
Honey and Lemon
This is easily one of the gentlest and most effective remedies for bronchitis. Honey acts as an antibacterial while lemon has plenty of Vitamin C in it. As I have mentioned in other articles, both lemon and honey also have a wide range of other medicinal properties that make them useful for managing a number of different medical conditions. Do not forget that most honey found in supermarkets has been pasteurized and refined to the point where it has almost no health value. Try to get honey from local bee keepers or a local herbal store that sells honey with the comb in the jar.
You may also want to see if you can find a reliable source of Manuka Honey. This particular honey is harvested in New Zealand from bees that feed primarily on Manuka flowers. Good quality Manuka honey has a higher concentration of antibacterial molecules.
As long as you choose organic, raw honey that has no sugar or other chemicals added, it will have many health benefits. Unlike other antibiotics, there is no such thing as a “superbug” problem with honey. Even pathogens that have evolved enough to survive and thrive in solutions containing many modern antibiotics still cannot survive when they are exposed to honey.
Preventing a Return of Bronchitis
Once you get over bronchitis, there is still an increased risk of it coming back. You will need to remain cautious about your diet, lifestyle, and stress levels. Fortunately, the changes that you make in your life to alleviate bronchitis will also be ones that lead to long lasting improvements in your life. While some habits can be harder to change than others, you will find that not wanting bronchitis to come back can serve as a motivator.
There is no question that having a cold or the flu can disrupt your life and make you wish you had stayed away from whoever transmitted the disease to you. When these infections are followed up with bronchitis, it can take months or even longer before your body returns to normal. Because the air, food, and water quality in the United States are all in bad shape, you can expect it be harder to avoid bronchitis and then get rid of it. This is the time to take precautions to safeguard your health and also see to it that the lawmakers you elect serve your needs in terms of cleaning up the air and water. You will also be well served by not buying toxic products and foods that make your condition even worse. It does not matter what party these politicians belong to because they must still listen to you and represent your interests.