Bronchitis & Coughs

Bronchitis & Coughs

Coughing is the body's method of removing obstructions of the airways. It is commonly a consequence of infections (such as Colds and Flu), but when more persistent may indicate the presence of bronchitis or other chronic respiratory disease. Infectious bronchitis usually resolves itself within 7-10 days, but may be more serious in children or elderly patients.


  • Productive or 'wet' coughs involve the expulsion of phlegm from the throat or lungs
  • Hacking or 'dry' coughs are non-productive
  • Repeated bouts of coughing may further irritate the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract, making the throat feel tender and raw
  • Symptoms may be accompanied by sore throat, Fatigue, runny nose or nasal congestion, fever, aches and pains
  • Wheezing and breathing difficulties may occur, and Asthma may be triggered, sometimes for the first time


  • Obstruction of the airways by food particles, mucus or inhaled substances (e.g. dust, cigarette smoke or occupational hazards)
  • Coughs are a common symptom of Colds and Flu, which are viral infections. Bronchitis can occur if a secondary bacterial infection develops and spreads to the chest
  • Smoking or occupational exposure to inhaled particles of asbestos or other airborne substances may lead to chronic bronchitis, which in some cases progresses to severe and life-threatening airway disease
  • Coughing may also be an attempt to breathe more easily during an Asthma attack or allergic reaction that has caused the airways to become inflamed

Nutritional & Herbal Support

  • Vitamin A is important for the healthy functioning of the respiratory mucous membranes. Cod and halibut liver oils are naturally rich sources of vitamin A
  • Echinacea has been scientifically proven to enhance Immunity, and may help reduce the severity and duration of infections. It is specifically indicated for individuals suffering from repeated bouts of Colds and Flu, bronchitis, Sinusitis and other respiratory infections
  • Vitamin C supports Immunity, and can help reduce the severity and duration of respiratory tract infections. It also helps to reduce histamine levels and this in turn helps to reduce inflammation and has an anti-asthmatic effect.
  • Bioflavonoids enhance the absorption and utilisation of vitamin C, and also have anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine properties of their own
  • Zinc is involved in many aspects of Immunity, and inadequate intake may lower resistance to infection. Supplementation may be particularly beneficial for the health of seniors, because the ability to absorb zinc declines with age
  • Garlic has potent antibiotic and immune-boosting properties, and has traditionally been used to relieve mucus congestion and other symptoms of respiratory infection. Look for a product containing the equivalent of 3 g of fresh garlic bulb. Parsley is sometimes taken at the same time to reduce the odour of garlic
  • Olive leaf has antibacterial and antiviral properties. It has traditionally been used to relieve the symptoms of respiratory infections, and is considered especially useful when fever is present. Look for a product providing 5000 mg of organic olive leaf extract, standardised to contain 100 mg of the active component oleuropein
  • If you are susceptible to recurrent respiratory tract infections, take a multivitamin that's been specially formulated with herbs, vitamins and minerals to promote immune support. Look for a product combining a broad spectrum of nutrients with immune-boosting herbs such as olive leaf, andrographis, echinacea, Siberian ginseng, and shiitake mushroom

Diet & Lifestyle advice

  • Symptoms that persist for longer than a week, are recurrent, or are accompanied by chest pain, weight loss, shortness of breath, or Fatigue may be indicative of underlying disease, and require medical investigation
  • Get plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and their juices. This will ensure you are getting plenty of vitamin C, betacarotene (some of which is converted into vitamin A in the body) and bioflavonoids
  • Many natural therapists encourage those who suffer from bronchitis to avoid dairy products, believing that they encourage the airways to produce mucus. Even though this advice is controversial, it's worthwhile trying; many sufferers report that avoiding dairy foods helps manage their symptoms
  • Steam inhalations or the use of a humidifier can help break up respiratory mucus and make it easier to expel; eucalyptus oil enhances the effects of the steam
  • Keep warm, and avoid moving suddenly from a warm environment to a cold one
  • Avoid dust, fumes and cigarette smoke, and always use appropriate protection if you are exposed to airborne pollutants at home or work
  • Practicing good hygiene helps prevent the spread of infection. Wash your hands carefully, always cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and dispose of used tissues thoughtfully
  • Expectorant herbal cough mixtures can help clear mucus, relieve coughs and soothe inflamed and irritated airways. Suitable ingredients for adults include echinacea, eucalyptus oil, licorice, white horehound and ginger. For children, choose a formula that includes echinacea, licorice, thyme and red clover

If symptoms persist consult your healthcare professional. Information provided is of a general nature and should not replace that of your healthcare professional.

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