( By Dr. H.K.Bakhru )
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Bronchitis refers to an inflammation of the bronchi or air passage of the lung. It is a breathing disorder affecting the expiratory function. In most cases, some infection also occurs in the nose and throat.
Bronchitis may be acute or chronic. IN chronic cases, the disease is of long duration. It is more serious than the acute type as permanent changes may have occurred in the lungs, thereby interfering with their normal movements. Chronic bronchitis is a condition of ageing and presumably degeneration of the respiratory tract that has been subjected to years of irritation by atmospheric pollutants, inhaled organism and , in smokers, to many years of self-inhaled irritants. It has been more frequent in males than in females and morality rate is also higher in males.
In most cases of bronchitis, the larynx, trachea and bronchial tubes are acutely inflamed. The tissues are swollen due to irritation. Large quantities of mucus are secreted and poured into the windpipe to protect the inflammed mucous membranes. There is usually some fever, and difficulty in breathing as well as a deep, chest cough. Other symptoms are hoarseness, pain in the chest, lack of energy and depression. The breathing trouble continues till the inflammation subsides and mucus is removed. In chronic cases, besides excessive production of bronchial mucus, there is infection and lung destruction.
Acute bronchitis may very often occur as a sequel to a common cold or as a result of an attack of influenza. The severity of the disease depends on the extent of the spread of infection which is aggravated by exposure to cold, damp and smoke.
The disease becomes chronic due to recurring attacks of acute bronchitis and wrong food habits. The habitual use of refined foods such as white sugar, refined cereals and white flour products results in the accumulation of toxic matter in the system and this toxic waste collects in the bronchial tube. Other causes of bronchitis are excessive smoking, living or working in a stuffy atmosphere and the use of drugs to suppress earlier diseases. Atmosphereic position and climate are important causal factors for the onset of the disease. The greater the pollu tion ,the higher will be the rate of chronic bronchitis.
In acute cases of bronchitis, the patient should fast on orange juice and water till the symptoms subside. The procedure is to take the juice of an orange in a glass of warm water every two hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. During this period, the bowels should be cleansed daily with a warm water enema. After the juice fast, the patient should adopt an all-fruit diet for two or three days.
In case of chronic bronchitis, the patient may adopt an all-fruit diet for five toseven days in the beginning of the treatment. In this regimen, he should have three meals a day of fresh juicy fruits such as apples, pears, grapes, grapefruits, oranges, pineapples, peaches and melons. Bananas, and dried or stewed or tined fruits should not be taken. For drinks, unsweetened lemon water or cold or hot plain water may be taken.
After the all-fruit diet, the patient should follow a well-balanced diet based on the three basic good groups, namely, seeds, nuts and grains, vegetables and fruits, as outlined in Chapter 1 on Diet in Health and Disease. The patient should avoid meats, sugar, tea, coffee, condiments, pickles, refined and processed foods, soft drinks, candies, ice cream and products made from sugar and white flour.
Certain vegetable juices have been found valuable in the treatment of bronchitis. The combined juice of carrot and spinach is especially beneficial. Formula proportions considered helpful in this combination are carrot 10 ounces and spinach 6 ounces to prepare 16 ounces or 1 pint of juice.
A hot Epsom salt bath every night or every other night will be highly beneficial during the acute stages of the attacks. The patient should remain immersed in the bath for about 20 minutes. In case of chronic bronchitis, this bath may be taken twice a week. Hot towels wrung out and applied over the upper chest are also helpful. Fresh air and outdoor exercises are also essential to the treatment of bronchitis and the patient should take a long walk every day.