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Bronchitis (cont.)

Chronic Bronchitis Medical Treatment

Treatment of chronic bronchitis can differ depending on the suspected cause. There is no cure for chronic bronchitis, and treatment is aimed at reducing symptoms and improving lung function.

  • Medications to help suppress the cough or loosen and clear secretions may be helpful. If the patient has severe coughing spells that cannot be controlled, a doctor may prescribe prescription-strength cough suppressants. In some cases, only these stronger cough suppressants can stop a vicious cycle of coughing which leads to more irritation of the bronchial tubes, which in turn causes more coughing.
  • Bronchodilator inhalers will help open airways and decrease wheezing.
  • Albuterol (Proventil, Ventolin) and/or ipratropium (Atrovent) nebulizer treatments may be recommended.
  • Corticosteroids may be prescribed to decrease the inflammation in the airways. These may be used as inhaled corticosteroids such as fluticasone (Flovent) and budesonide (Pulmicort), or taken orally such as prednisone and methylprednisolone (Medrol).
  • Though antibiotics play a limited role in treating chronic bronchitis, they become necessary in some situations.
    • If the doctor suspects a bacterial infection, antibiotics may be prescribed.
    • People with underlying chronic lung problems may also need to be treated with antibiotics.
  • In severe cases of chronic bronchitis, home oxygen may be necessary.
  • In rare cases, the patient may be hospitalized if they experience breathing difficulty that doesn't respond to treatment. This usually occurs because of a complication of chronic bronchitis, or in individuals with other underlying lung problems.

Chronic Bronchitis Follow-up

  • The affected individual should follow-up with their health-care professional regularly to monitor their chronic bronchitis, especially during flare-ups.
  • Call the doctor's office if any new problems or acute worsening of symptoms occur.

Chronic Bronchitis Prevention

  • Stop smoking.
  • The dangers of secondhand smoke are well documented. Children should never be exposed to secondhand smoke.
  • Avoid exposure to irritants. Proper protection in the workplace is vital to preventing exposure.
  • Avoiding long exposure to air pollution from heavy traffic may help prevent bronchitis.
  • Stay away from others you know have a cold or the flu.
  • Wash the hands frequently to prevent the spread of infection.

Chronic Bronchitis Prognosis

  • Chronic bronchitis can cause symptoms for prolonged periods of time.
  • In many cases, the symptoms of chronic bronchitis can be controlled with strict adherence to treatments recommended by your health-care professional.
  • Smoking cessation is a critical component in determining an individual's ultimate prognosis.
  • In some cases, the symptoms will progressively worsen and become debilitating from the repeated exacerbations of the disease.
  • Untreated or poorly managed chronic bronchitis can result in permanent and severe damage to the lungs.


COPD Foundation.

American Lung Association. Understanding Chronic Bronchitis.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/3/2015
Medical Editor:

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Bronchitis »

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes, or bronchi.

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