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Inflammation and swelling of the mucous membrane lining of the bronchial tubes within the lung, characterised by coughing, chest pain and fever.
Persons most commonly affected: All age groups and both sexes.
Organ or part of body involved: Bronchi and lungs.
Symptoms and indications: A persistent cough that, in the early stages of the diseases, tends to occur in the winter months and disappear during the summer. However, as the bronchitis develops, the cough is present most of the time and is at its worst in the morning. There is an excessive, copious production of mucous, and the person is breathless. Crackling, bubbling and wheezing sounds can be heard when listening to the chest.
Causes and risk factors: Bronchitis may arise as a result of a viral and/or bacterial infection or through some other cause, often as a complication of heart disease. Several parameters are of direct consequence to its cause, including smoking, exposure to air pollutants, cold, wet climate, poor and damp housing, frequent respiratory infections and obesity.
Prevention: Avoid smoke and smokers. Also avoid as far as possible cold, damp conditions and polluted air and drink plenty of fluids and eat a good diet. Reduce irritant exposure, do not enter areas of high pollution, use a humidifier to loosen mucus secretions and make breathing easier, avoid directly inhaling cold air, try to protect the face and mouth when walking during cold weather since cold air may aggravate symptoms of bronchitis, limit the use of cough suppressants since mucus should be coughed up to help unblock bronchi and reduce intake of foods such as sugar, white flour, dairy and others that may be mucus-producing.