Your lungs are like a tree, the thick branches extending from the trunk are called bronchi. The progressively smaller ones dispersing out are bronchioles. Their primary function is air flow, so they are shaped like tubes. And the lining in both produce mucus to moisten and protect them.
Your bronchioles can fluctuate in diameter. Their dilation increases air flow and can be stimulated by epinephrine or sympathetic nerves. Their constriction reduces air flow and may be triggered by histamine, parasympathetic nerves, cold air, chemical irritants and other factors.
There are a variety of issues that can develop and affect the bronchi and bronchioles. And bronchial problems often reduce the amount of oxygen you can take in.
The most common bronchial problem is inflammation. When the membrane lining of these tubes become inflamed it is referred to as bronchitis and bronchiolitis. This health condition may be temporary or chronic, causing symptoms of coughing up mucus, wheezing, difficulty breathing, chest pain and fever. If your bronchial inflammation problem is only temporary, it’s typically caused by a cold, flu or allergy.
Another bronchial problem that’s on the rise is asthma. It is a bronchial problem involving constriction. Sometimes the bronchi and bonchioles narrow to such an extreme that very little air can pass, causing air hunger. Other symptoms include wheezing, chest tightness and coughing.
COPD, bronchial pneumonia and lung cancer are other problems that can develop in the bronchial tubes. COPD causes symptoms of coughing up large amounts of mucus, chest tightness, shortness of breath and wheezing. Bronchial pneumonia is often caused by a bacterial infection, resulting in a dry or mucus producing cough, chest pain, breathing difficulty, fever, weakness and sweating. And lung cancer frequently originates in the bronchial lining and causes symptoms of chest pain, trouble breathing, wheezing, weight loss and fatigue.