How to fight, survive, treat chronic bronchitis

Bronchitis nearly killed me when I was 8 or 9 - my grandmothers were taking turns watching over me with my distraught mom and dad ... Dr. Burgess was making house calls and having grave conversations with my parents out in the kitchen ... the Rock Island IL public librarians even allowed Mom to check out the RIPL's reference copy(!) of Jane's Fighting Ships 1950 ... battleship Richelieu was my favorite ... see also Robert Louis Stevenson's poem "Land of Counterpane" - and it has been my ticking croc (as in Peter Pan) ever since, attacking with ever (with age) increasing frequency and severity ... and now, because of my wife and our 2 yr old son and baby daughter, I live in NORWAY.

There are 3 or 4 progressive respiratory diseases/conditions like this: chronic bronchitis, emphysema, lung cancer, and something starting with a K.

1. GET PLENTY OF REST, so your resistance doesn't run down if the bronchitis isn't actively attacking and so your system can fight back if it is ... and eat nutritious foods. Don't let it get you started coughing: gargle warm salt water and get good cough drops - Ricola cherry honey drops work best for me.
An important component of rest is a regular schedule of uninterrupted sleep, preferably as close to one's biological clock as possible. Going to bed after midnight is courting trouble.

2. I may be wrong about this - check with your doctor! - but it is my understanding that antibiotics are ineffective against bronchitis, so don't ruin your receptiveness to them (for when you do need them) by getting/using them unnecessarily.
Aspirin can help, especially if a serious fever does develop.
Supposedly, chronic bronchitis isn't contagious, but ....

3. Severely cold dry air triggers attacks, so stay out of it as much as you can. When the bronchitis is attacking, don't drink or eat anything cold down into you.

4. When temperatures are moderate and you are well, do respiratory exercise to build up your lungs ... like jogging, cross-country skiing, and/or vigorous walking. Do not exercise too much when you have an attack, and avoid dusty and/or polluted areas.

5. Don't fall on the Norwegian ice and get 4 broken ribs like I did, Christmas 2007. Chest injury can trigger bronchitis attacks which can slide into (fatal) pneumonia, and they work together: coughing aggravates the injury, and the injury stimulates the disease.

6. In December 2007, I e-mailed with the leading authority in the world on spitum, a medical college faculty member in England. Get the crud out of you any way you can: use a vaporizer (or long hot shower) to get warm moisture into your lungs to loosen it up, turn your torso upside down as far as you can to help it drain, and spit it out. Do NOT swallow it back: it is sticky and will re-glom with what is still there. Yellow crud is typical. Green and even gray crud is much more serious, as is blood. Brown crud may mean dried blood. That might mean that you are healing and it is breaking up, or it might just confirm bleeding in the bronchial tubes and/or lungs, which (again) is very serious.
Do not breathe steam directly into your nose and lungs, or you will scorch them and aggravate the bronchitis, if not permanently damage your respiratory system.

With experience, you'll be able to feel whether the bronchitis is still up in your bronchial tubes or is descending into pneumonia in your lungs, but if your doctor wants an x-ray, go with it.

Fever is typically deceptively moderate, so don't let anyone talk down the seriousness of this. And treat yourself as though you are still having an attack as long as 2 weeks after you think your symptoms have disappeared. This thing can strike back at you with reptilian savagery, if you let it.

Again, GET REST and good luck!

Lou Coatney

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8Jan10