Breathe easy

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes, the air passages that run from your windpipe to your lungs. It affects many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults and children.

Bronchitis is contagious and can be spread by direct or indirect contact. It may be caused by a virus, bacteria, smoking or the inhalation of chemical pollutants or dust. The most common symptoms are a cough, wheezing, fever and soreness in the chest.

There are two main types of bronchitis: acute and chronic. Acute bronchitis usually lasts about 10 days, while chronic bronchitis lasts for months and recurs year after year.

Men are more likely than women to suffer chronic bronchitis, and those who smoke are at greater risk. Once you stop smoking, there is a gradual reduction in the likeliness of contracting bronchitis. Those who suffer chronic bronchitis are more likely to suffer chest infections and pneumonia as well.

If you have chronic bronchitis it is recommended you give up smoking, as this will slow the rate that the disease progresses and should improve breathlessness. An annual flu vaccination may also prevent you from catching influenza in the winter. Bronchitis can be treated with antibiotics, rest and by drinking plenty of fluids.

If you are suffering bronchitis or any other health problem, you should visit your doctor or local Aboriginal Medical Service. To find the health service nearest you, visit where you can find a complete list of Aboriginal Medical Services, as well as other health help numbers and information on other health issues.

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