Chronic Bronchitis Quick Overview
- Bronchitis is an inflammation of the
airways in the lungs. Acute bronchitis happens when this inflammation of the air
passages comes on quickly and resolves within two to three weeks. Chronic
bronchitis is when a cough with mucus persists for most days of the month, for
at least three months, and at least two years in a row.
- Chronic bronchitis is caused by
- inhaling irritating fumes or dust,
- viruses such as the
- Risk factors for chronic bronchitis
- Symptoms of chronic bronchitis include
cough that persists for most days of the month, for at least three months, and
at least two years in a row. Coughing may be painful and can cause chest and
abdominal muscles to be sore. Other symptoms include wheezing and shortness of
- Chronic bronchitis is diagnosed based
on the symptoms and physical exam. By definition, chronic bronchitis must
persist for most days of the month, for at least three months, and at least two
years in a row.
- Treatment of chronic bronchitis depends
on the cause. There is no cure, and treatment is aimed at reducing symptoms.
Medications may be prescribed including
- cough suppressants or expectorants,
- bronchodilator inhalers,
- nebulizer treatments,
- corticosteroids (inhaled and
- in some cases
- Severe cases of chronic bronchitis may be
treated with home oxygen or hospitalization.
- The best way to prevent chronic
bronchitis is not to smoke or be around secondhand smoke. Avoid exposure to
inhaled irritants and air pollution, stay away from others who have a cold or
the flu, and wash hands frequently to prevent the spread of infection.
- Quitting smoking is the biggest factor in determining an individual's
ultimate prognosis. Untreated or poorly managed chronic bronchitis can result in
permanent and severe damage to the lungs.
What is chronic bronchitis?
Bronchitis is considered chronic when a cough with mucus persists for most days of the month, for at least three months, and at least two years in a row. Bronchitis occurs when the trachea (windpipe) and the large and small bronchi (airways) within the lungs become inflamed because of infection or irritation from other causes. Chronic bronchitis and
emphysema are forms of a condition characterized by progressive lung disease termed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Picture of the lung, bronchi, and airways of the lung
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/3/2015
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