Bronchitis Types Chronic

Chronic bronchitis is basically an ongoing respiratory disease. People with chronic bronchitis have a cough that produces mucus on a daily basis for at least two years.

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the airways in the lungs. The airways are the tubes in the lungs that air is passed through when you breathe. When you have chronic bronchitis, these airways are inflamed and irritated, and they produce mucus because of this. In turn, the mucus blocks the airways and makes it much harder to breathe.

Causes and Symptoms of Chronic Bronchitis

Chronic BronchitisChronic bronchitis causes include cigarette smoking and exposure to other things that irritate the passageways of the lungs, such as chemical fumes, dust and other similar substances. However, the leading cause of chronic bronchitis is smoking.

The symptoms of chronic bronchitis include:

  • a mucus-producing cough
  • a tight feeling in the chest when breathing
  • trouble breathing normally or wheezing.

Chronic bronchitis usually starts out slowly, with very few symptoms. Most people think it is simply a smoker’s cough and dismiss it.

Risk factors for chronic bronchitis include smoking or being exposed to secondhand smoke. Other risk factors include occupational or environmental hazards, and having recurrent respiratory infections.

Diagnosis for Chronic Bronchitis

If your doctor thinks you may have bronchitis, he will do a number of tests to diagnose your illness. You doctor will ask you about your health history, and will probably do some other tests including:

  • blood tests
  • chest X-ray
  • pulmonary function test.

Chronic bronchitis usually occurs as part of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. This is a serious disease that often gets worse over time if left untreated.

Chronic Bronchitis Treatment

The best treatment for chronic bronchitis is to quit smoking. This is difficult to do, but chronic bronchitis is a serious illness, and will get worse if not treated. Your lungs usually begin to start healing if you quit smoking, and by quitting you will also reduce your chances of developing lung cancer.

Your doctor may also prescribe various medications to help you. You might be prescribed a bronchodilator, which is a type of inhaler that provides medicine to open the lung airways and make it easier to breathe. Other options include medicine in pill form and steroids.

Lifestyle changes and alternative options can also help with chronic bronchitis. Some things that may help with chronic bronchitis include:

  • avoiding dust, fumes and pollution
  • eating healthy
  • exercising regularly
  • getting an adequate fluid intake
  • getting plenty of rest
  • moving to a lower altitude or less polluted area.

It is also a good idea to stay away from people with colds or flu, and to get a flu shot, because chronic bronchitis can be exacerbated by having a cold or the flu.

Some people with chronic bronchitis find that alternative therapies can help keep chronic bronchitis under control. Common alternative therapies include:

  • acupressure
  • acupuncture
  • hypnosis
  • relaxation techniques
  • visualization or imagery.

If you suspect you have chronic bronchitis, it is important to see your doctor so that your symptoms can be diagnosed and a treatment plan can be decided upon as soon as possible.

Resources

Canadian Lung Association (2007). Bronchitis. Retrieved July 30, 2007, from the Canadian Lung Association Web site: http://www.lung.ca/diseases-maladies/a-z/bronchitis-bronchite/index_e.php#chronic.

Familydoctor.org (2005). Chronic Bronchitis. Retrieved July 30, 2007, from the Familydoctor.org Web site: http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/articles/280.html.

PDRHealth.com (n.d.). Chronic Bronchitis. Retrieved July 30, 2007, from the PDRHealth.com Web site: http://www.pdrhealth.com/patient_education/BHG01PU03.shtml.