Bronchitis and the Elderly Population
Bronchitis is a respiratory condition that can have particularly serious implications for the elderly. This is why seniors who suspect bronchitis need to pay attention to their condition and seek medical attention if the symptoms worsen or are prolonged.
The tubes that bring air to the body are known as the bronchi, with one bronchus leading to each lung. The inflamation of these tubes is known as bronchitis, a condition that is itself divided into two categories. Acute bronchitis usually lasts no more than about two weeks and may go away on its own. Often caused by either a virus or an infection, the condition can be aggravated by exposure to secondhand smoke or even air pollution. Chronic bronchitis can last for years and is one of the serious consequences of smoking. It can also lead to more serious problems, especially in the elderly. The symptoms of bronchitis include the following:
- Coughing and wheezing
- Expelling of mucus
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
Treating Bronchitis in the Elderly
The symptoms of acute bronchitis can often be treated through the use of a vaporizer or humidifier, which can help reduce congestion, and by consuming something hot, whether it be soup or tea. A fever can usually be relieved through over-the-counter medications. In cases of chronic bronchitis, antibiotics can be administered if there is a strong suspicion of a bacterial infection. The avoidance or discontinuation of smoking at a younger age is one of the best ways to prevent chronic bronchitis later in life.
Seeking Medical Attention
Bronchitis is more serious in senior citizens because their lungs have often become degraded from the effects of aging and because their immune systems are less able to resist secondary infections. One in 20 cases of bronchitis will develop into pneumonia, which is why those who experience difficulty in breathing, chest pains or symptoms that do not go away should seek medical attention. The doctors at the Unimed Health Systems are available to provide advice to help patients avoid bronchitis and the necessary treatment should the condition arise.