Bronchitis is a condition in which the lining of bronchial tubes that carry air to and from the lungs is inflamed. The inflammation leads to swelling and thickening of the bronchial tubes, which makes the airways in the lungs very small. This airway reduction may result in symptoms that include coughing spells, chest discomfort, tiredness, or shortness of breath. Bronchitis may be caused by smoking, air pollution and toxic gases.
The goals of bronchitis treatment are to make breathing easier and to relieve symptoms. Two main classes of medications may be used to treat bronchitis. These are called bronchodilators and steroids. Bronchodilators such as albuterol (Proventil) work to relax the muscles around the bronchial tubes, which allows the airflow to increase. Inhaled steroids such as budesonide (Pulmicort) work by decreasing inflammation and swelling. Side effects of inhaled steroids include headache and dizziness.