What is chronic bronchitis?
Bronchitis is the inflammation of the bronchi in the lungs. Chronic bronchitis, as the name suggests, is defined as a persistent, long term case of bronchitis. The symptoms, namely coughing and mucus production may return each year, and can last for at least 3 months. It is a serious health problem and occurs most commonly in late adult life.
What are the causes of chronic bronchitis?
There are several causes of chronic bronchitis, including:
• Inhaled irritants (e.g. cigarette smoking, smog and industrial pollutants). Smoking is believed to be the main cause
• Viral and bacterial infections that result in acute bronchitis may lead to chronic bronchitis if people have repeated bouts with infectious agents
• Underlying disease processes (e.g. asthma, immunodeficiency, cystic fibrosis, congestive heart failure, genetic factors)
What are the symptoms of chronic bronchitis?
The major symptoms of chronic bronchitis are as follows:
- Recurrent episodes of productive coughing are the most common symptoms. The intensity of coughing and the amount and frequency of sputum production vary from patient to patient
- Shortness of breath (Dyspnea) gradually increases with the severity of the disease
- Wheezing (a coarse whistling sound produced when airways are partially obstructed) often occurs
These symptoms may be mild initially, provoked by irritants such as tobacco smoke or chemical gases. Exacerbation can be brought about by tiredness, sudden weather change or contracting flu. There is usually improvement when warmer weather returns. Severe chronic bronchitis sufferers may develop complications such as emphysema, bronchiectasis, or heart failure.
What is western medical treatment for chronic bronchitis like?
Western medical treatment for bronchitis usually comes in the following forms:
- Quitting cigarette smoking and avoiding air-borne bronchial irritants
- Medical treatments such as bronchodilators (often taken in the form of an inhaler), antibiotics and steroids
- Oxygen therapy
These measures aim to slow the rate that the diseases progress and reduce or abolish symptoms. However they do not prevent further exacerbations. Repeated use of antibiotics or steroids can lead to reduced immunity against bacteria and therefore make one susceptible to secondary infection.
How can acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine help treat chronic bronchitis?
Chinese medicine perceives chronic bronchitis as a lung Qi deficiency which may or may not have started as a viral attack, but which resulted in depleted lung energy (Qi). It is usually accompanied by phlegm. The origin of the phlegm is usually the digestive system (spleen) which results in the accumulation of water affecting the lungs.
It is reasonable to think that if one can increase his/her resistance against infection, recurrence of acute attacks will be minimized. The use of acupuncture and natural herbs in Chinese medicine serves not only to reduce symptoms during the acute phase of chronic bronchitis; it can also build up the body’s resistance and immunity, in order to treat the disease successfully. Many years of experience in treating such patients have shown this treatment method to be effective and the benefit long lasting, with no accompanying side effects.
Helped at the centre:
TCM is known for its effectiveness in helping treat chronic bronchitis, especially in cases where other treatments are ineffective. Dr. Xing has treated a large number of patients who previously suffered with chronic bronchitis, with a high success rate.
One 94 year old lady had been suffering from bronchitis for over 18 months, and had tried many courses of antibiotics and cough medicines, without success. She decided to visit our clinic, where Dr. Xing carefully examined her condition, and diagnosed that her ailment was a result of lung Qi and kidney Yin deficiency. He then treated her using acupuncture and herbs, and within two weeks, her symptoms had improved dramatically. By the fourth week of treatment, the symptoms had completely disappeared, with the patient slightly short of breath only during physical activity. Surprised and extremely happy with the results, she decided to continue with the treatment to improve her general wellbeing, and now feels much healthier than before she visited our clinic.
Another patient had been suffering from bronchitis, asthma and hay fever for a period of 12 years. After other treatments failed to treat the condition, he decided to visit Dr. Xing, where he was treated using acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. Within weeks, his condition had improved dramatically, with significantly less asthma attacks, easier breathing, and no re-occurrences of hay fever.