What are Bronchial Allergies?
In general, allergies are the responses by the immune system to the environmental substances. It may be an abnormal response because the substance is not essentially causing harm to the environment. This is due to hypersensitivity. Allergies may be of different forms. Some of them are allergic asthma, food allergies, drug allergies, contact dermatitis, allergy to fungi, etc. The substances causing allergies are called allergens.
In the respiratory system of humans, trachea gives rise to two branches each entering two lungs and are called bronchi (singular bronchus). Bronchi are the tube like structures connecting the trachea to the lungs. Inflammation in the bronchi is generally referred to as bronchitis. It may be asthmatic, non allergic or allergic. Air if contains any foreign substance causes irritation in bronchi which may lead to inflammation. This condition is called allergic bronchitis or bronchial allergy. It is also referred to as chronic bronchitis in which the patients suffer for a long time.
Can Bronchial Allergies Be Cured Completely?
Allergy is a kind of response to the allergens. Hence the hypersensitivity is natural and triggering of allergic condition is always expected when exposed to specific allergens. So it should be understood that the only way to avoid bronchial allergies is to take precautions against invasion of particular allergens. There are many techniques to identify the type of allergen affecting the patients. Most commonly used technique nowadays is skin testing. In this technique, skin is exposed to very little quantity of different substances and left for some time. After sometime, the reactions are observed to identify the allergen which is responsible for causing bronchitis. Some other tests involve specific IgE tests also by removing certain allergens from the patient’s environment and introducing again after sometime. Many symptoms of bronchial allergy can be cured whereas shortness of breath and cough will remain for more time.
How are Bronchial Allergies Caused?
Many people are very sensitive to some substances like pollen grains, molds, dust and smoke of cigarette or even vehicles. During inhalation, these allergens are carried by air, brings cough and causes swelling of bronchi. This constriction decreases the space inside the bronchi and makes breathing difficult. Mucus is also produced as a result of presence of allergens in air worsens breathing.
Symptoms of Bronchial Allergies
Although the symptoms of allergic bronchitis are different for individuals, some of the most common symptoms are listed here:
- Cough usually accompanied by mucus
- Feeling of tightness of chest
- Sound is produced during breathing as a result of constriction which is commonly called as wheezing
The symptoms may affect the individual for a short time or even may prolong. In most of the cases, it is recurring too. It is called COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) if the condition persists for more than three months. Hence allergic bronchitis is sometime considered as a part of COPD.
Complications of Bronchial Allergy
Duration of persistence of symptoms is the indication of severity of bronchial allergies. Long time persistence of bronchial allergies may lead to many more complications such as pneumonia – an inflammation of the lung. Pneumonia if not treated well in time may turn to a condition which is mostly fatal called septicemia that is the spreading of infection to the blood stream.
Treatment for Allergic Bronchitis
Since there are many reasons for allergic bronchitis and also different conditions, treatment also accordingly varies. Treatment for bronchial allergies depends upon the background of the work place of the patient, severity of the disease, how constrict the bronchi have become, etc. Depending upon all the factors, doctors go for different levels of treatments for bronchial allergies.
Initially, as a first line of treatment for bronchial allergies the doctors make the muscles of bronchi to relax by giving bronchodilators. The medicines of this category are ipratropium, albuterol, levalbuterol. These work very quickly and dilate bronchi so that the passage of air would be easier. Some more bronchodilators like tiotropium, formoterol and salmeterol effect slowly but work up to 12 to 24 hours.
Inhalers are also helpful to reduce the inflammation so that breathing becomes easier. These also work as quickly as possible since they contain steroids like budesonide, mometasone and fluticasone.
Now aim of the doctor is to relieve the mucus in the airways. Doctors advice to use humidifiers which loosens the mucus by producing warm air. Humidifiers should be maintained properly so that growth of germs should be prevented.
Oxygen saturation test is conducted when the patient is at rest to know the oxygen level. Doctors advice for oxygen therapy if he/she finds insufficient oxygen level.
Precautions to Prevent Bronchial Allergies
The best way to prevent the patient to suffer from bronchitis is to take suitable precautions. Once the allergen for an individual is identified the patient should change the working environment where he/she is exposed to allergens. In case if this is not possible, some other ways listed here to be followed to prevent the disease:
- Sufficient ventilation should be created in the working place.
- Bronchial allergies patient should use mask to avoid allergens like pollens and dust.
- Patient can also use respirators which clean the air if ventilation is not sufficient in the environment.
- Patients with bronchial allergies should exercise well along with oxygen therapy.
- It is necessary to avoid chemicals in the form of room fresheners, bug sprays, hair sprays, etc. In case it is not possible to avoid, sufficient ventilation is confirmed before using.
- Vaccines are also available to prevent the risk of bronchitis. They include, pneumonia shot for every 5 years or a flu shot once in a year.
- Several breathing techniques including pranayams and breathing with pursed lips will help for easy breathing and can also help prevent bronchial allergies.
Several institutions, associations and hospitals conduct pulmonary rehabilitation programs. People who are more prone to allergies can attend the programs which aim at improving breathing, bringing awareness about nutrition, educating people to do exercises which support easy breathing, counseling. These programs involve doctors, specialists, medical assistants, etc.
Allergic bronchitis can affect the people who smoke of tobacco in any form, working in any industry where exposure to either dust or chemicals is common, group aged 45 and above, females, people working in a polluted environment, etc. Though bronchial allergies symptoms like cough completely cannot be cured, they can be managed and avoided to some extent if the patient follows the preventive measures strictly. Bronchial allergies can be improved with timely medicines, oxygen therapies, exercises and vaccines. In case of children, more sport activities must be encouraged to increase the lung capacity and increase the immunity. Different types of pranayamas are helpful for making breathing easy and to increase the volume of lungs.
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