Bronchial inflammation occurs either acutely, chronically or reactively depending on the cause. Acute bronchitis, for example, is an infection of the lower respiratory tract where the bronchial inflammation is reversible and only lasts for a short time period. Chronic bronchial inflammation is indicative of severe ailments, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease like emphysema. Asthmatics, however, may experience inflammation persistently or during an asthma attack. Bronchial inflammation has indicator symptoms that can clue a person into an underlying cause. If breathing difficulties become severe or worsen, patients should seek immediate medical attention.
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When bronchial airways inflame, they become swollen and tender. This causes constriction in the lower respiratory tract and the smooth muscle surrounding the bronchial branch. If the cause of inflammation is viral, the chest tightness can last from several weeks to several months, according to "American Family Physician," the journal of the American Academy of Family Physicians. Chest tightness is usually quelled by using a bronchodilator, like albuterol, which relaxes the surrounding muscles of the bronchial airways.
Bronchial inflammation is a common attribute in asthmatics. Generally, the bronchial tubes are quite tender and reactive in their normal state. Any minor disruption such as allergens, chemicals or exercise can immediately cause a quick constriction of the airway, which significantly reduces air flow. Even in instances of bronchitis, cigarette smoke or chemical fumes can instantly cause bronchial inflammation if a person is allergic to these compounds. Antihistamines for allergies or long-term corticosteroid inhalation treatments help to reduce sensitive bronchial pathways for fewer reactions, according to MedlinePlus, a publication of the National Institutes of Health.
Wheezing is most noticeable upon exhalation, in which a high-pitched whistling noise will sound. It often comes from the small bronchial tubes deep within the chest that are inflamed. It is dually symptomatic of a respiratory condition, such as a viral infection, asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia or emphysema. Physicians will usually prescribe a bronchodilator to improve airflow. If the wheezing is due to a viral infection or secondary bacterial infection, patients can benefit from an expectorant that helps remove microbe-containing sputum from the respiratory tract to encourage healing, according to MedlinePlus.