Q: I have had bronchitis twice this winter already. I went to a doctor the first time and she put me on prednisone to help open up my airway. I got over it but it reappeared back again about a month and a half later. I didn’t have a fever and felt fine other than the chest congestion and horrible cough. I have not coughed as much this second time around, though.
Are there any good home remedies to take once I begin feeling this coming on and that I might be able to take once I have it – again? I have been using a heating pad on my chest and drinking green tea with honey.
Thanks. Love your column.
A: To some degree, you are no different than every other individual on earth. We get sick and want a sure cure remedy that will make us all better in the snap of a finger. And, we get mighty frustrated when things don’t work the way we want them to. We (myself included) blame the doctor for not giving us medicine that works well enough or the pharmaceutical company because they didn’t put the proper ingredients in a product. We blame our bodies for not fighting off infections we don’t feel we should acquire. We don’t have the time nor the inclination to get sick. We are simply too busy, have too heavy a schedule, and have zero tolerance for such things as illness and glitches in the system. There are times when we just need to deal with issues as they present. Okay, enough grumbling. Let’s face the issues.
Bronchitis is inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes that carry oxygen to and carbon dioxide from the lungs. It may develop from a simple cold, a virus, from a smoking habit (or the smoking habit of others), pollutants in the air, or toxic fumes in the workplace or on the highway when we get behind a diesel truck that is belching out black smoke. Then too, our immune systems may be compromised and we may acquire illness more easily than others do.
Many physicians can diagnose bronchitis simply by performing an examination, listening to a patient’s lungs through a stethoscope, and taking a history of what preceded a visit to him or her. Antibiotics are often prescribed, yet if the bronchitis is from a viral infection (which in most cases it is), from pollutants, or from inflammation following an infection, antibiotics will not be effective. They can’t fight a virus. A physician can prescribe a cough medication, yet that may be counter-productive also. The cough actually helps remove the gunk from your lungs and that’s a good thing. A night-time cough suppressant might allow a patient to sleep better and help build back his or her immune system, and that might be considered. And, when things get as bad as yours did – and reappeared a second time – such things as prednisone that decreases inflammation or an inhaler that helps open up the airways, might be just the thing to get a person back up and running.
On the home front, your lungs have been compromised twice over this winter, and steps should be taken to stay clear of irritants whenever possible. If anyone in your house smokes, they should go out of doors to do so. Even such things as strong cleaning materials – at home or on the job – should be avoided if at all possible. You may find breathing less harsh if you wear a face mask until the fumes of a newly washed bathroom or kitchen floor dissipate. Consider the purchase of a humidifier that will keep the air in your home or bedroom moist. It may go a long way toward loosening the mucus in your airways.
It goes without saying that you should wash your hands frequently. If you don’t have access to fresh water, consider purchasing a tube of hand sanitizer at your local pharmacy that will help.
Try to stay clear of individuals who have symptoms of a cough or cold.
Steam therapy is very effective in most instances. Put the stopper in your bathroom sink and fill it with very hot water – either from the tap or from a tea pot of hot water. Add a bit of eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil, or pine oil and cover your head with a towel while leaning over the sink. Inhale deeply. Repeat as needed. Keep in mind that if the problem is chronic inflammation, steam therapy just may worsen the problem.
Gargle with warm salt water several times a day.
Eat well-balanced meals and get adequate sleep. Build up your immunity and keep those bugs away. Good luck.