An introduction to bronchitis and fatigue
Bronchitis is a condition that occurs when an irritant or infection causes inflammation and swelling to the lining of the bronchial tubes (the tubes that carry air to and from your lungs). As the irritated membranes of the bronchi swell and grow thicker, the tiny airways of the lungs become restricted.
This inflammation can also cause the membranes in the lining to start producing excess mucus, clogging the bronchi and restricting airflow to the lungs further.
This triggers coughing (the most common symptom of bronchitis), which if persistent, can make you feel extremely tired. Fatigue is also common if bronchitis has been caused by a viral infection.
Why does bronchitis cause fatigue?
Acute bronchitis can make you feel very tired for two reasons:
Firstly, the persistent cough can disturb your sleep, making you feel tired and exhausted. This problem can affect those with both acute and chronic bronchitis.
And secondly, if your acute bronchitis is being caused by an infection (which it most commonly is), as opposed to an irritant, you can feel more tired as your body uses its energy to fight off the infection and recover.
Together, these two problems can create a vicious cycle of fatigue: not getting enough sleep because of your cough can hinder your immune function, which in turn slows down recovery, causing your cough and other symptoms the linger for longer and disrupt your sleep more.
Fatigue only usually lasts while your body recovers, which can be from a few days to several weeks at the most.
If fatigue continues after all symptoms have cleared it is important to consult your doctor as it may be a sign of another medical condition or a secondary infection.
Are there any self-help measures?
There are several things you can do to help your body recover faster and lessen your fatigue. You should:
Get plenty of rest: The body needs lots of energy to fight the infection, so it’s important not to over-exert yourself as this can impede your recovery and cause you to feel even more tired.
Sleep is very important to your recovery. If your cough or mucus congestion is preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep, try elevating your head, neck and shoulders with an extra pillow or two may make it easier to breathe and drain away mucus that may be clogging your air passages.
Drink plenty of fluids: Dehydration may not only slow down your recovery, it can also sap your much-needed energy.
Keeping well hydrated will also help to keep the lining of your bronchial tubes moist, which reduces irritation and the coughing episodes that can wear you out. This can also help thin out mucus, which can clog your airways and prevent you from sleeping.
Eat well: You may not feel like eating anything, but it is important to eat to build up your strength.
If your bronchitis is being caused by an infection (which is the most commonly cause), as opposed to an irritant, your body can be robbed of essential nutrients and vitamins. It is important to restore these effectively with a good diet, rich in fruit and vegetables.
Limit the amount of sugary or fatty foods you eat as these foods negatively impact your immune response, plus they are harder for your digestive system to break down, causing your body to use up energy which is needed for recovery.
Nutrient-rich homemade soup is the perfect recovery food because it is easy to digest, nourishes your body and boosts your immune system.
Ease your cough: If persistent coughing is preventing you from sleeping or sapping your energy then take a look at our cough self-help measures and remedies for simple ways to ease a dry hacking cough and mucus-producing cough.
Reduce mucus production: Excess amounts of mucus often occur as your condition progresses, which can prevent you from sleeping or cause you to cough more.
It is therefore important to take measures to help your body reduce mucus production and thin mucus to allow you to cough it up more easily. Take a look at our mucus self-help measures for lots of mucus reducing tips.
Are there any herbal remedies to help me?
Persistent coughs are often one of the most prominent symptoms of bronchitis; these coughs may or may not be accompanied by the production of mucus and unsurprisingly, persistent coughs may also give rise to fatigue.
Firstly, coughs with lots of mucus are known as productive coughs. If you experience a chesty or mucus cough, use the herbs Ivy and Thyme found in Bronchoforce to help ease your symptoms.
Ivy is naturally anti-spasmodic and can work well to help loosen any stubborn mucus, whilst thyme is gently anti-septic and helps to thin any mucus, making it easier to expel.
Next, if an underlying infection is likely to be causing the chesty cough (this is particularly common in cases of acute bronchitis), then this may also be contributing to fatigue.
If this is the case then Echinaforce in combination with Bronchoforce, may be a good option for you. Echinaforce can help to minimise the duration and severity of your symptoms, whilst also supporting your immune system.
After a period of illness, or if you generally feel more run down, our Balance Mineral Drink may also be a suitable option for you.
Balance Mineral Drink is a great source of vital electrolytes and nutrients including calcium, magnesium and vitamin D which can help to reduce feelings of tiredness or fatigue.
What about conventional medicines?
As well as self-help measures and herbal remedies, your doctor or pharmacist may recommend some conventional medicines to help ease your bronchitis symptoms, which may be preventing you from sleeping or causing you to feel exhausted. These include:
Expectorants: This type of cough medicine can help make it easier to cough up mucus if you have a productive (mucus-producing) cough.
Suppressants: If your cough is productive (mucus-producing), don’t use a cough suppressant, unless your doctor recommends it. However, if you have a persistent dry hacking cough, then a cough suppressant may be helpful. Cough suppressants reduce the activity of the cough reflex.
Antibiotics: These will only be prescribed if your doctor thinks your acute bronchitis is being caused by a bacterial infection.