Bronchitis is a respiratory disease that causes a persistent cough and difficulty breathing. The disease can be caused by a variety of factors and last anywhere from a few days to several weeks.
Fortunately, most cases of bronchitis can be treated at home. Before you reach for over-the-counter medications, try these home remedies for bronchitis and give your body the extra boost it needs to get better fast.
What Is Bronchitis?
Bronchitis is a medical condition that results in the inflammation of the bronchial tubes and respiratory tract. As the tubes become inflamed, excess mucus builds up and leads to a persistent cough, sore throat, and wheezing. Other bronchitis symptoms include a dry cough, high fever, body aches, and chest pain.
Bronchitis may be caused by bacterial infections, viral infections, and environmental factors including air pollution. Most cases of bronchitis are caused by viral infections and irritants such as smoke. The infection or irritation typically occurs in the lower respiratory tract. There are two types of bronchitis: acute bronchitis and chronic bronchitis.
Acute bronchitis has a duration of up to 10 days. Symptoms such as a cough may last longer than the initial disease period.
Chronic bronchitis may last for weeks and has a high rate of recurrence. People with asthma and emphysema have a higher risk of developing chronic bronchitis. If you suffer from severe chronic bronchitis, you may have COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Seek medical advice from a qualified professional before trying to treat bronchitis or your symptoms at home.
Diagnosing and Treating Bronchitis
For the most part, acute bronchitis will clear up on its own and requires no special medical treatment. Chronic bronchitis may be a sign of more severe infection and you should consult a healthcare professional if you suffer from bronchitis symptoms for several weeks.
The diagnosis of bronchitis begins with a physical exam. Doctors will check for wheezing using a stethoscope and ask about your symptoms including cough. Doctors may also use a chest X-ray to rule out the possibility of upper respiratory tract infections including pneumonia. If your doctor diagnoses you with acute bronchitis, they’ll likely give you advice on home treatment to ease symptoms. For chronic bronchitis, they may prescribe medications to treat an infection.
The 9 Best Natural Remedies For Bronchitis
1. Drink Fluids
The best way to boost immune function is to ensure your body gets the fluids it needs. Drink tons of water, tea, or orange juice to help flush harmful bacteria and viruses out of your system. Drinking fluids also helps to thin and loosen mucus, making it easier for your body to expel excess mucus. Fluids can also help lubricate the throat, reducing sore throat symptoms and minimizing dry cough.
2. Get Lots of Rest
The best cure for most cough and cold ailments is to get plenty of rest. Take the day off and focus on your recovery. You’ll also avoid getting other people sick by taking care of yourself first. Acute bronchitis causes a high expenditure of energy as the body struggles to breathe and get rid of mucus by coughing. Settle into a comfy spot in your home and try to rest. Take naps throughout the day and make sure to stay hydrated.
3. Use A Humidifier
Dry air can increase the risk of respiratory infections. They are particularly common in the winter months when the air is dry and can increase symptoms such as cough. Humidifiers work to increase moisture in the air, making it easier to breathe and reducing mucus.
Choose a humidifier that is whisper-quiet so you can run it even when you’re sleeping. Make sure to clean the unit regularly to prevent bacteria from contaminating the air in your home. You can also use a humidifier with essential oils to promote faster healing.
If you don’t have a humidifier on hand, bring water to a rapid boil on the stovetop. Remove from heat and cover your head and neck with a towel. Lean over the pot and inhale the steam vapor deeply. Breathe over the pot for 5 minutes and repeat as needed throughout the day.
4. Eat Well
Eating a healthy diet is one of the best ways to boost immunity and stay healthy. Experts recommend eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains. Try adding food rich in vitamins and minerals such as berries and leafy greens. Beans and nuts also offer a great deal of fiber and beneficial nutrients to keep your immune system in top shape. Ginger can also help boost immunity by decreasing inflammation and soothing cough with very few side effects.
In addition to eating healthy, you can also take supplements to boost immunity. A meta-analysis published in Clinical Therapy, researchers found that long-term supplementation with N-acetylcysteine helped to reduce symptoms of chronic bronchitis (1). Probiotics also help to increase healthy bacteria that can fend off infections. Look for these supplements in your local health food store.
5. Avoid Irritants
Irritants such as pollution and smoke may cause acute bronchitis or worsen symptoms. Use an N95 face mask if pollution levels are high in your city. You can check the API—pollution levels—using phone apps or on most weather sites. Make sure to avoid potential triggers such as dust and chemical fumes. Replace air filters regularly and vacuum on a regular basis to reduce flare-ups.
Most people know that smoking is bad for respiratory health. Avoid second-hand smoke if you suffer from bronchitis. Most experts also recommend quitting smoking to increase longevity and reduce health problems.
6. Drink Lemon and Honey
Cough suppressants and cough medicine are not recommended for the treatment of bronchitis (2). The body creates mucus as a direct response to the inflammation of bronchial tubes. Coughing helps to clear mucus and aids the body in recovery. Taking suppressants makes it more difficult for the body to expel the mucus, slowing recovery.
Instead, try drinking tea with lemon and honey to help soothe a sore throat and minimize cough. Vitamin C in the lemon will also help to build your immune system.
7. Focus on Belly Breathing
Many patients who suffer from bronchitis have shallow breath. Difficulty breathing results in short, shallow breaths that can require a great deal of effort. Try using your stomach muscles to control breathing. Focus on breathing in until your stomach expands and using your stomach muscles to expel breath slowly. You can also purse your lips to help slow your breathing and reduce the feeling of gasping for air.
8. Soothe Symptoms
Acute bronchitis causes many of the same symptoms as the common cold. Soothe a sore throat by drinking tea or sucking on lozenges or cold beverages. You can also gargle with salt water or a mixture of apple cider vinegar and warm water to help soothe a scratchy throat.
Take over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications such as Tylenol or ibuprofen to help ease body ache. Alternatively, you can soak in a hot water bath to ease inflammation and soothe achy muscles.
9. Essential Oils
Essential oils may help to improve breathing and boost immune function. Many essential oils including lavender oil can help to reduce stress and improve sleep when you are sick. These oils also boast antiviral properties that may increase immune function and help you fight infections. For respiratory ailments, try eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil, and geranium oil.
Breathe Easier With Home Remedies
Most cases of acute bronchitis clear up on their own given enough time and rest. Home remedies can help lessen symptoms in the meantime, making you feel better faster. Make sure to get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids. Avoid irritants and eat a healthy diet to promote immune health. Seek medical treatment if your bronchitis doesn’t go away after 10 days or recurs often.