Information for Patients
When you breathe in, the air travels down through your trachea (windpipe). It then goes through two tubes to your lungs. These tubes are your bronchi. Bronchial disorders can make it hard for you to breathe.
The most common problem with the bronchi is bronchitis, an inflammation of the tubes. It can be acute or chronic. Other problems include
- Bronchiectasis - a condition in which damage to the airways causes them to widen and become flabby and scarred
- Exercise-induced bronchospasm - a breathing problem that happens when your airways shrink while you are exercising
- Bronchiolitis - an inflammation of the small airways that branch off from the bronchi
- Bronchopulmonary dysplasia - a chronic lung condition in infants, most often premature infants
Coughing is a reflex that keeps your throat and airways clear. Although it can be annoying, coughing helps your body heal or protect itself. Coughs can be either acute or chronic. Acute coughs begin suddenly and usually last no more than 2 to 3 weeks. Acute coughs are the kind you most often get with a cold, flu, or acute bronchitis. Chronic coughs last longer than 2 to 3 weeks. Causes of chronic cough include
- Chronic bronchitis
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
- Throat disorders, such as croup in young children
- Some medicines
Water can help ease your cough - whether you drink it or add it to the air with a steamy shower or vaporizer. If you have a cold or the flu, antihistamines may work better than non-prescription cough medicines. Children under four should not have cough medicine. For children over four, use caution and read labels carefully.
When you breathe, your lungs take in oxygen from the air and deliver it to the bloodstream. The cells in your body need oxygen to work and grow. During a normal day, you breathe nearly 25,000 times. People with lung disease have difficulty breathing. Millions of people in the U.S. have lung disease. If all types of lung disease are lumped together, it is the number three killer in the United States.
The term lung disease refers to many disorders affecting the lungs, such as asthma, COPD, infections like influenza, pneumonia and tuberculosis, lung cancer, and many other breathing problems. Some lung diseases can lead to respiratory failure.
Dept. of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health