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Home :: Respiratory Diseases

Chronic Bronchitis


Acute Bronchitis
Chronic Bronchitis
Lung Abscess
Pleural Effusion

This condition is seen mostly in cold, wet, polluted environments. It is associated with excessive tracheobronchial mucous production sufficient to cause cough with expectoration for 3 months a year for more than two consecutive years. Chronic bronchitis is associated with hypertrophy of mucous producing glands found in airway

Chronic bronchitis is an inflammation of the airways in the lungs. Most cases of acute bronchitis disappear within a few days without lasting effects, although coughs may linger three weeks or more. It is a clinical diagnosis characterized by a cough productive of sputum for over three months' duration during two consecutive years and the presence of airflow obstruction. COPD accounts for about 7 per cent of all days off work from sickness and the annual NHS workload for COPD exceeds that for asthma.Infants usually get bronchiolitis, which involves the smaller airways and causes symptoms similar to asthma. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is comprised primarily of two related diseases - chronic bronchitis and emphysema. COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in America, claiming the lives of 122,283 Americans in 2003 and the number of women dying from the disease has surpassed the number seen in men. The symptoms are coughing and breathlessness, which will get worse over the years.

It occurs when your trachea (windpipe) and the large and small bronchi (airways) in your lungs become inflamed because of infection or other causes. The cough and inflammation may be caused by infection, illness, or exposure to tobacco smoke or other irritating substances in the air. Although there are several different types of bronchitis, the two most common are acute and chronic (primarily affects adults). Airways are the tubes in your lungs that air passes through. They are also called bronchial tubes. In chronic bronchitis, there also may be narrowing of the large and small airways making it more difficult to move air in and out of the lungs. The mucus plugs up the airways and makes it hard for you to get air into your lungs. The increased number of activated polymorphonuclear leukocytes and macrophages release elastases in a manner that cannot be effectively counteracted by antiproteases, resulting in lung destruction. Oral steroid therapy should be reserved for use in patients with demonstrated improvement in airflow not achievable with inhaled agents. The condition is defined by the presence of a mucus-producing cough most days of the month, three months of a year for two successive years without other underlying disease to explain the cough.

Causes of Chronic Bronchitis

The comman causes of Chronic Bronchitis include the following:

  • Cigarette smoking is the main cause of chronic bronchitis.
  • Secondhand smoke may also cause chronic bronchitis, air pollution, infection, and allergies make chronic bronchitis worse.
  • Lung cancer - can cause recurrent bronchitis
  • The use of solid fuels for cooking and heating may result in high levels of indoor air pollution and the development of COPD.
  • In children, the most common cause of bronchitis is a virus, although in children over 6 years of age, it can be caused by bacteria.
  • Bronchitis also can occur when you inhale irritating fumes or dusts. Chemical solvents and smoke, including tobacco smoke, have been linked to acute bronchitis.

Symptoms of Chronic Bronchitis

Some sign and symptoms related to Chronic Bronchitis are as follows :

  • Cough that produces mucus (sputum), which may be blood streaked.
  • Cough with sputum.
  • Ankle, foot, and leg swelling that affects both sides.
  • Frequent headaches.
  • Shortness of breath aggravated by exertion or mild activity.
  • Chest pain.
  • Persistent winter cough that disappears in summer - an early symptom.
  • Swelling of the legs and ankles.
  • Abnormal lung signs.
  • Lips and skin may appear blue.

Treatment of Chronic Bronchitis

Here is list of the methods for treating Chronic Bronchitis:

  • Antibiotics may be prescribed for infections as needed.
  • Avoid triggers of attacks.
  • Inhaled medications that dilate (widen) the airways and decrease inflammation may help reduce symptoms such as wheezing.
  • Healthy diet.
  • Persistent symptoms and more severe disease are treated with anti-inflammatory medicines called steroids (of the glucocorticoid type) which are given with an inhaler.
  • Increased fluid intake.
  • Cool mist humidifier in the room may be helpful.
  • In certain circumstances these can be removed surgically and will allow better inflation of the rest of the lung tissue, but this treatment is suitable for only a minority of patients.
  • Oxygen therapy may be needed in severe cases. In very severe cases, a lung transplant may be recommended.