Bronchitis is a general term for inflammation of the airways in the lungs that is usually caused by an infection. It often gets better without treatment, symptoms can be soothed and recovery can be sped up with the right products[i].
In medical terminology, bronchitis can also be divided into categories:
Acute bronchitis is usually caused by viral infections, such as the common cold or influenza. It is characterised by a cough that may produce mucus, along with symptoms like chest discomfort, wheezing, shortness of breath, and low-grade fever. Acute bronchitis typically lasts for a few weeks and resolves on its own with rest, hydration, and symptomatic treatment[ii].
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is sometimes called emphysema or chronic bronchitis. Emphysema usually refers to destruction of the tiny air sacs at the end of the airways in the lungs[iii].
Acute bronchitis usually improves within a week to 10 days, while chronic bronchitis requires medical attention and is often associated with COPD.
Sputum – coughing up clear, white, yellow or green mucus
Chest pain related to the cough and infection
Shortness of breath[iv]
Symptoms of acute bronchitis from infection can also include: a sore throat, a runny nose and a high temperature.
A chronic cough is a common symptom of chronic bronchitis, please see your doctor urgently if your cough has been a problem longer than 3 weeks. It is also important they rule out any other potential causes of a persistent cough or dry throat.
Bronchitis is caused by viral or bacterial infections, with viral infections being the most common. Chronic bronchitis is often a result of long-term irritation from smoking. Other factors include exposure to environmental irritants, low immunity, and gastric reflux, read more below[v].
People with weakened, or undeveloped immune systems - When your immune system is not strong, it becomes easier for infections to take hold and cause bronchitis. Groups more at risk in this regard include older adults, babies and young children[vi].
Exposure to pollutants: Breathing in irritants over a long period of time can lead to chronic inflammation of the airways / lungs. For example, working in certain environments where you are exposed to chemical fumes or dust can raise the risk of bronchitis[vii][viii].
Gastric reflux: The stomach acid that comes up during reflux can reach the tubes that carry air to your lungs, causing inflammation[ix].
Smoking: Smoking or exposure to second hand smoke can increase the risk of bronchitis[x].
Nutrition plays a big role in supporting the immune system, reducing inflammation, and improving overall respiratory health, which are all important factors in managing bronchitis. Whether it’s acute or chronic, your diet can aid you in recovery or management of symptoms.
Fruits and vegetables provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support immune function and reduce inflammation - antioxidants help protect the respiratory system from oxidative stress and damage caused by pollutants and irritants. Nutrients like vitamins A, C, and E, as well as zinc and selenium, are essential for a strong immune system[xi][xii][xiii].
Certain nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and flaxseed, have anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce inflammation in the airways. This is important to consider because inflammation is an issue in causing symptoms of bronchitis[xiv].
Be mindful of sodium: Too much sodium (found in table salt and many processed foods) can cause water retention and affect the lungs in chronic conditions. You can use alternatives such as herbs and spices to give your food a depth of flavour[xv].
Ginger and honey: ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory as it has been found to modulate the production and activity of various inflammatory cytokines. Therefore, ginger is said to be of benefit in controlling inflammatory symptoms in bronchitis, as well as being a useful tool for many other conditions[xvi][xvii]. Meanwhile honey is a natural antimicrobial with scientific research supporting its traditional use[xviii]. Lemon, Ginger & Manuka (20 sachets).
Focus on healthy proteins and fats rather than simple, refined sugars. A food high in protein with soothing benefits is bone broth. It is recommended for healing due to being rich in nutrients, including collagen, amino acids, and minerals like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Regarding healthy fats, good sources of monounsaturated fats include olive oil, avocados, nuts (such as almonds, cashews, and macadamias), and seeds (such as sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds)[xix]. Bone Broth: Pure Collagen
In cases of acute inflammation and depending on your symptoms, it may be of benefit to eat small and frequent meals and snacks rather than eating a large meal, so as to not put too much stress on the digestive system.
Depending on the cause of bronchitis, these are our favourite picks to help reduce inflammation and/or combat infection.
Pure Encapsulations Quercetin: Quercetin is a natural compound found in certain foods like fruits and vegetables, and has been studied for its potential benefits in reducing inflammation and oxidative stress in the lungs[xxii].
Hifas da Terra Mico Pne: Is a great medicinal mushroom product, Mico-Pne (Pneumo) helps to maintain an adequate quality of nutritional status to care for the immune system. It contains a variety of bioactive ingredients which come from mushrooms that are beneficial for health[xxiii].
Cytoplan Wholefood Zinc: Zinc has been seen to possess immune-boosting and antiviral properties that could potentially benefit bronchitis. It also plays a significant role in tissue development, maintenance and regeneration, to aid in recovery[xxiv].
Terranova Elderberry and Olive Leaf Super Blend Powder: Elderberry supplements, made from the fruit or flowers of elderberry plants, contain flavonoids that may help reduce inflammation and ease flu symptoms, whilst olive leaf extract, derived from the leaves of the olive tree, has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties[xxv][xxvi]. Try also: Pukka Elderberry Syrup an organic blend including Ginger and Thyme/ Viridian Elderberry Extract (Organic) with Vitamin C.
Pure Encapsulations Resveratrol Extra: Resveratrol is a compound found in red wine, grapes, nuts, and berries that has shown potential in improving lung health and reducing inflammation. It may be beneficial for people with lung diseases like bronchitis and emphysema[xxvii].
Viridian High Potency NAC: N-acetylcysteine (NAC) has been studied for its potential benefits in cases of bronchitis. A systematic review suggested that NAC can reduce the risk of exacerbations and improve symptoms in patients with chronic bronchitis compared to a placebo[xxviii][xxix].
Get plenty of rest - Rest is crucial for your body to recover from bronchitis. Listen to your body and get as much rest as you can[xxxi].
Sleep: If a night-time cough keeps you awake, use an extra pillow to prop up your head and prevent mucus from settling in the back of your throat
Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water, can help thin out mucus and make it easier to cough up[xxxii].
Avoid smoking and alcohol, as these are irritants but can also reduce the power of the immune system over time[xxxiii].
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Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.