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Hypochondriac Corner.

Byline: VICTORIA KENNEDY

Do I have bronchitis

WHILE usually not too serious, this can be a debilitating illness - as Christina Aguilera has found out.

The pop star had to cancel the last two dates of her UK tour after picking up the infection. The symptoms start like a common cold - runny nose, tiredness, achy muscles and a sore throat - but this is followed by a dry cough that brings up white or yellow phlegm.

It happens when the lining of the bronchial tubes - connecting the windpipe with the lungs - become infected by a virus or bacteria.

Bronchitis is highly infectious and picked up from other people's coughs. Cigarettes, dust and air pollution all make it worse.

It should clear by itself, or a doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Drink plenty of water and cough to remove the phlegm. If you're worried, or if your cough lasts for more than 10 days, contact your GP.

..or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

THIS is a potentially life-threatening lung condition - in Britain, 30,000 people die from it every year. Often known as "smoker's lung", the symptoms are coughing and wheezing, worsening over the years.

The disease develops from chronic bronchitis when the tubes to the lungs fail to heal because of the irritation from smoke. Left untreated, airflow can become so restricted that sufferers feel like they're being strangled.

If you have chronic bronchitis - usually with a nagging cough that lasts several weeks - see your GP.

COPD causes irreversible damage - but it can be helped with antibiotics, steroids or an inhaler. The best treatment is to quit smoking. This will prevent further damage in 94 per cent of people within four weeks.
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Title Annotation:M health
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 13, 2003
Words:278
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