Bronchial hyperreactivity

When we breathe, vital oxygen but also many irritants penetrate our lungs. Many people have a particularly sensitive reaction to such irritants – they suffer from bronchial hyperreactivity. What happens in the lungs of affected people and what can be done against it?

On a daily basis, our airways are continuously exposed to irritants that are present in the surrounding air. Exhaust fumes, cigarette smoke, pollen, dust, cleaners – to name just a few.

While most persons can easily tolerate these irritants, they can lead to symptoms from coughing and shortness of breath, all the way to serious choking attacks in persons with bronchial hyperreactivity.

Bronchiale Hyperreagibilität

Asthma and COPD as a common cause

Bronchial hyperreactivity denotes a hypersensitivity of the lungs. It appears most often, but not exclusively, in connection with allergies and pulmonary diseases such as bronchial asthma and COPD. If the triggering irritants penetrate the airways of these persons, they narrow the airways and may produce an urge to cough, feelings of tightness, and inability to breathe.

Triggers of obstructed airways

Triggers for bronchial hyperreactivity are primarily all of those irritants found in the air we breathe:

  • Exhaust fumes
  • Fine dust
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Cold air
  • Perfume
  • Cleaning chemicals
  • Smoke
  • Allergens such as pollen or dust mites
verengte Bronchien

Symptoms of bronchial hyperreactivity

Generally, the symptoms of bronchial hyperreactivity (narrowed airways, coughing, shortness of breath) appear about 5 to 20 minutes after exposure, and disappear up to two hours later (immediate asthmatic response). In about 50% of cases, the symptoms reappear after 6 to 8 hours (late asthmatic response).

In certain weather situations, the symptoms often multiply: humid or wet weather also burden the airways and intensify the symptoms.
Furthermore, there are fluctuations in the bronchial hyperreactivity symptoms throughout the day, whereby symptoms become more pronounced in the evening and night hours.

Diagnosis of bronchial hyperreactivity

Bronchial hyperreactivity is diagnosed within the scope of testing, through the measurement of lung function (forced expiratory volume in 1 second, FEV1). Before such a measurement, any bronchodilating drugs that suppress narrowing of the airways must be suspended.

One simple method is measuring the lung function before and after an approximately 5-minute run. If the forced expiratory volume in 1 second drops by more than 15% after the endurance run, this would indicate bronchial hyperreactivity. Even a layperson can perform such a measurement using a lung function test for COPD.

Treatment of bronchial hyperreactivity

Treatment of bronchial hyperreactivity involves, to the extent possible, avoidance of the triggers. Early asthmatic responses are treated with bronchodilating drugs. In the case of late responses, they are mostly treated with inhaled corticosteroid sprays. In order to avoid side effects such as irritation of the vocal cords or fungus growth in the throat area, such sprays are administered using a spacer for inhalation (for example, the RC-Chamber®).

Inhalierhilfe RC-Chamber®


The spacer for inhalation for all ages

The RC-Chamber® spacer for inhalation simplifies the use of metered-dose inhalers and minimises side effects due to drug residue in the throat area.
There are other disorders that accompany bronchial hyperreactivity. These include, for example, gastroesophageal reflux, chronic rhinitis, and postnasal drip syndrome. The RC-Cornet®N – or its further development the RC-Cornet® PLUS NASAL – is the therapeutic respiratory device to loosen secretions in the nose-throat area, to improve the function of the mucous membranes, and to reduce the formation of mucus in the paranasal sinuses. Thanks to this device, the bronchial system is no longer irritated and unpleasant coughing is significantly reduced.

RC-Cornet® PLUS


Use of the RC-Cornet® PLUS NASAL produces vibrations that are transmitted to the entire nose and throat area. These have a decongestant, expectorant and regenerating effect over time, especially with chronic upper respiratory tract diseases.
You can find additional information on our health portal

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