If you or someone you know is unfortunately affected with bronchitis, getting adequate rest, drinking fluids and breathing warm and moist air can help with recovery from the disease.
There are other treatment protocols that your physician may recommend to you as well. However, it can be confusing to differentiate the effective solutions from the potentially dangerous ones. Keep on reading to see how you can eradicate bronchitis while minimizing the health risks and avoiding treatments that can lead to further harm.
These Methods Help Keep Bronchitis Symptoms in Check
Many cases of acute bronchitis actually go away without any specific treatment. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for chronic bronchitis, since there is no known cure for this illness.1 In order to cure bronchitis, your physician might suggest some methods that can help relieve and keep the symptoms under control, such as:2
These open up the bronchial tubes and clear the mucus lining the pathways
✓ Oxygen therapy:
Helps improve your oxygen intake when breathing becomes difficult
✓ Pulmonary rehabilitation program:
With the help of a respiratory therapist, a program is set up to assist you in improving your breathing
✓ Avoiding exposure to smoke and other irritants, or stopping smoking altogether:
To alleviate bronchitis symptoms, it's important to stop smoking, and avoid exposure to irritants that cause damage to your lungs3
✓ Running a humidifier:
Using this device especially at night while sleeping helps moisten the air you breathe and aids in thinning mucus and relieving cough4,5
✓ Breathing exercises:
These exercises could be vital, especially if you have chronic bronchitis. They can help manage your symptoms that could worsen as time passes.
Breathing exercises allow you to exert yourself less during daily activities and help you return to proper form when you exercise.6
These Treatment Methods Are More Bad Than Good
Some patients may be prescribed any of these conventional treatments for bronchitis. However, it's better to avoid them if posible, especially in the long run, since they might cause more harm than good:7
• Antibiotics: These medicines are typically given to patients who have acquired a bacterial infection. Antibiotics have been proven to disrupt the amount of beneficial bacteria residing in your gut. They create an oxygen-rich environment that paves the way for the development of pathogens and diseases,8 unlike the anaerobic setting that beneficial bacteria need to thrive.
Your immune system also takes a hit if you take antibiotics, as around 80 percent of your immune system is found in your gastrointestinal tract. According to research published in the journal MBio, just a single course of antibiotics can alter your gut microbiome.9
Even worse, if a pregnant woman uses antibiotics to treat bronchitis, this can severely impact the child's health. A study conducted in Denmark discovered that a child's risk for asthma increases if the mother took antibiotics during the pregnancy.10
The researchers discovered that children exposed to antibiotics were also 17 percent more likely to be hospitalized for asthma before they turn 5 years old. Meanwhile, children who were already predisposed to asthma because their mothers had the condition had twice the risk of developing this.
Antibiotics should be brought into the picture only if a bronchitis patient is experiencing very serious symptoms and complications that warrant this type of medication. However, for every dose of antibiotics that the patient takes, a dose of probiotics should be taken a few hours before or after taking the medicine to replenish the lost gut bacteria.
• Over-the-counter (OTC) cough suppressants and pain relievers: These include medicines like acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to treat fevers,11 as well as cough suppressants or mucolytics that help in thinning or loosening up the layers of mucus in the airways to help the patient cough out sputum or phlegm, easier.12
Although OTC medicines and/or NSAIDs have been conventionally used for various diseases, recent studies have revealed that they may lead to dangerous and life-threatening side effects.
Data from 2004 has already highlighted that around 100,000 calls have been made annually to poison control centers across the U.S. because of acetaminophen overdose.13 Plus, acetaminophen overdose has also been linked to severe liver injuries and even death.14
On the other hand, NSAIDs like aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen, have a variety of negative side effects, with the three most common being upset stomach, nausea and vomiting. Your risk for cardiovascular problems, GI bleeding, kidney problems, hypertension and even death15 significantly increases with NSAID use as well.
• Glucocorticoids: these are steroids that can lessen inflammation throughout the body, so you can see why these are typically prescribed for bronchitis patients.16 Unfortunately, there are some side effects associated with these, such as:17
• Immunosuppression or weakened immune systems that make you prone to serious infection/s
• Delayed wound healing
• Increase in blood sugar, cholesterol and triglyceride levels
• Higher risk for diseases such as diabetes mellitus, osteoporosis, ulcers, gastritis and Cushing's Syndrome
• Psychological effects such as mood changes, memory problems or psychosis
Try These Natural Treatment Methods Instead
Bronchitis comes with frequent coughs, so you can start your recovery by combating this known symptom with these four inexpensive and natural remedies:
• Raw honey: Aside from its antiviral and antibacterial properties that can potentially eradicate bronchitis-causing agents, raw honey is also anti-inflammatory — important in healing the inflammation in your lungs and airways. You can also try a variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes that can assist in healing your body.
Raw honey could also prevent bronchitis by stabilizing your immune system. A 2007 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics also revealed that raw honey was able to relieve symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection among children.19
• Homemade chicken soup: Apart from being a potent anti-inflammatory, homemade chicken soup contains carnosine, an immune system booster that can help ward off infections. Cysteine, a natural amino acid, is also present in the broth, and can assist in thinning the mucus in your lungs to make it less sticky and allow you to expel the mucus more easily.
If you want to consume chicken soup, make sure that you use homemade bone broth. Processed and canned chicken soups are typically made with artificial and unnatural ingredients, defeating the purpose of enhancing your health while you're sick.
• Eucalyptus oil: this essential oil can be useful in opening up inflamed airways in your lungs. It also contains cineole, a potent antiseptic that is known to kill bad breath-causing bacteria.20 Unfortunately, eucalyptus oil is not meant to be taken internally. Instead, add around five to 10 drops to a hot bath so you can breathe in the steam and potentially relieve chest congestion.
• Lemons: vitamin C-rich foods are some of your best bets against bronchitis. You can make a very potent and natural cough syrup by combining lemon and raw honey, just like in this recipe:
Honey Lemon Cough Syrup
• A pint of raw honey
• One whole lemon
1. Put a pint of raw honey in a pan on the stove on very low heat. Make sure to maintain this temperature and not boil the honey, since boiling can change its medicinal properties.
2. Take a whole lemon and boil some in water in a separate pan for two to three minutes, to both soften the lemon and kill any bacteria that may be on its skin.
3. Let the lemon cool enough to handle, then cut it in slices and add it to the pint of honey on the stove.
4. Let mixture cook on low heat for about an hour.
5. Strain the lemon from the honey, making sure all lemon seeds have been removed.
6. Let it cool, then place the mixture in a jar with a lid and store in your refrigerator.
This cough syrup will keep for two months in your refrigerator. If you want to take the syrup to relieve a cough, a 1-tablespoon dose will work for adults. Meanwhile, one-half teaspoon is needed for a 25-pound child, while a 50-pound child will require 1 teaspoon, taken at four times a day or as often as needed.