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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Physician Lim Sock Ling and Dr Eki Wari on October 18, 2022

Top Bronchitis Treatment Options To Support Lung Health

If you are a smoker, then quitting should be part of your bronchitis treatment plan. Here are some other remedies that can help get rid of that chronic cough.

Bronchitis min scaled

Many people will require bronchitis treatment this cold and flu season. When coupled with the potential for also catching COVID-19 this winter, your respiratory health may be at serious risk.

In fact, chronic bronchitis affects approximately 10 million Americans, mostly between the ages of 44 and 65 years old. This is defined as having a chronic cough and mucus for at least three months out of the year for two years in a row.

Luckily, there are several things you can do to protect your lung health. Read on to learn prevention tips and remedies you can use as bronchitis treatment this year.

What Is Bronchitis?

A chest x-ray can help determine the severity of a bronchitis lung infection.

Bronchitis can be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term). It’s a condition that occurs when the airways in the lungs known as the bronchial tubes become inflamed. This leads to coughing with mucus.

Acute bronchitis is common. It’s caused by viral infections, such as the flu or colds, and may take a few days or weeks to recover. Sometimes, it’s caused by a bacterial infection.

Chronic bronchitis refers to an ongoing cough that lasts for years. It occurs when the lining of your airways is constantly inflamed, which can make it hard to breathe.

Chronic bronchitis is linked to lung function decline, reduced health-related quality of life, and all-cause death. It is a type of lung disease called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It is often caused by cigarette smoking.

Symptoms

Bronchitis symptoms may include:

  • Cough with mucus or phlegm present
  • Chest pain
  • Low fever
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath

Bronchitis Treatment, According To TCM

We asked Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Physician Lim Sock Ling to explain bronchitis from a TCM perspective.

“As the saying goes, ‘If vital qi is retained within the body, external pathogens are unable to invade.’ In general, a weak body constitution is prone to illnesses. Those who are prone to allergic reactions are also susceptible to bronchitis. From a TCM point-of-view, bronchitis is primarily due to the invasion of Wind, Heat or Cold pathogens that attack the Lungs. The Lung is a delicate organ. Individuals with Lung Deficiency are prone to upper respiratory tract infections, such as bronchitis,” Physician Lim stated.

There are several ways TCM can provide bronchitis treatment:

Acupuncture

A study by The Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine found that patients with regular acupuncture sessions showed a reduction in the use of medications to control bronchial symptoms, particularly the use of steroids, which can cause extensive liver damage over an extended period of time.

Acupuncture treatment improves the body’s immune system and removes internal blockages to help control bronchial infections,” stated Physician Lim. 

Another study found acupuncture to be effective for the treatment of chronic bronchitis. Specifically, acupuncture stabilized overall health and increased immunoglobulin production for elderly patients with chronic bronchitis. 

Commonly used acupuncture points are: 

  • Fei Shu (BL13) 
  • Ge Shu (BL17) 
  • Dan Shu (BL19) 
  • Yu Ji (LU10) 
  • Chi Ze (LU5) 
  • Kong Zui (LU6) 
  • Lie Que (LU7) 
  • Tian Shu (ST25) 
  • Zu San Li (ST36) 
  • Feng Long (ST40) 

Herbal remedies

In addition to acupuncture, you can also use herbal remedies as part of your bronchitis treatment.

For Wind Cold syndrome with symptoms such as a dry cough or a cough with white phlegm, Physician Lim recommends Ma Huang soup. For Wind Heat syndrome with symptoms such as a chesty cough and thick yellow phlegm, she recommends San Ju Yin.

“Boswellia (Ru Xiang) has anti-inflammatory properties and can be used to improve breathing. Studies suggest that it can be useful for bronchitis, asthma, cough and sore throatAstragalus Root (Huang Qi) also has anti-inflammatory properties and can help to prevent upper respiratory infections,” stated Physician Lim.

Cordyceps act on the Lung and Kidney meridians. Consider double boiling Cordyceps for your family’s consumption to strengthen their immunity. Note that this should not be consumed when individuals are experiencing flu or fever,” Physician Lim continued.

Instead, you may wish to consider an herbal remedy made specifically for fever relief or flu relief. Research shows that bird’s nest also helps strengthen respiratory health. Meanwhile, children may benefit from taking an herbal cough powder to ease symptoms.

Bronchitis Treatment When Accompanied By COVID-19

Steam inhalation may help clear your airways if you are suffering from COVID-19 and bronchitis.

In some cases, a person may develop both bronchitis and COVID-19. However, there are some key differences to help you determine which you have and how to treat it.

COVID-19 is an infection from SARS-CoV-2. Acute bronchitis is usually caused by viruses, typically the same viruses that cause colds and flu (influenza). Bronchitis is due to irritation and inflammation of the bronchi. The most common cause of chronic bronchitis is cigarette smoking. Air pollution and dust or toxic gases in the environment or workplace also can contribute to the condition. From a TCM perspective, COVID-19 is due to Wind, Heat, Dampness, and toxin pathogens,” stated Physician Lim.

Similar to COVID-19, persons with acute or chronic bronchitis may also experience fatigue and flu-like symptoms, such as body aches and headache, fever, chills and cough. However, bronchitis usually involves the production of mucus (sputum), which can be clear, white, yellowish-gray or green in color — rarely, it may be streaked with blood, while it’s usually dry cough for COVID-19.

The symptoms of bronchitis are more upper respiratory tract related, such as shortness of breath and chest discomfort. The symptoms of acute bronchitis usually improve in about a week but you may have a prolonged cough for several weeks. Chronic bronchitis would last for at least 3 months and the cough or other symptoms worsen due to acute infection. 

“TCM’s treatment for both bronchitis and COVID-19 would be similarly based on syndrome differentiation. If someone has both conditions, the TCM treatment method would be to clear Heat, detox, and remove Phlegm and Dampness (where appropriate),” concluded Physician Lim.

Be sure to a doctor and get tested if you suspect you have COVID-19. Also, practice safe cough hygiene by coughing into your arm or a tissue to prevent spreading germs.

References

  1. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases. 2019. Chronic Bronchitis: Where Are We Now?
  2. National Heart, Lung, And Blood Institute. Bronchitis.
  3. The Journal Of Alternative And Complementary Medicine. 2007. Acupuncture in Asthma and Pulmonary Disease: An Analysis of Efficacy and Safety.
  4. Healthcare Medicine Institute. 2007. Acupuncture Found Effective For Bronchitis Relief.
  5. Food Frontiers. 2022. Edible bird’s nest inhibits the inflammation and regulates the immunological balance of lung injury mice by SO2

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