Chronic bronchitis refers to bronchitis that lingers well after a cold is gone. It is different from acute bronchitis, which occurs alongside a cold and often clears up on its own.
Chronic bronchitis is associated with a wet, mucus-producing cough and difficulty breathing due to inflamed airways. This cough is typically worse in the morning and in damp, cold weather, according to the American Lung Association. In fact, experts say that a person with this type of cough can produce an ounce of yellow mucus per day. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, wheezing and chest tightness.
Ignoring the condition can lead to lung injury, like scarring of the lungs. Other respiratory issues like pneumonia and even heart failure can occur. Chronic bronchitis is a form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that’s almost always caused by smoking. According to the American Lung Association, it can also be caused by exposure to industrial dust and harmful fumes.
Treatment of Chronic bronchitis
When it comes to treatment, the University of California San Francisco Medical Center recognizes a number of treatments. The number one suggestion is quitting smoking. Other treatments include bronchodilators to help relax and open airways, steroids, antibiotics to treat respiratory infections, oxygen therapy, lung volume reduction surgery to remove damaged lung tissue, and pulmonary rehabilitation. This last option provides education regarding breathing techniques, nutrition counseling and more. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the condition can be treated, but it never fully goes away.
An estimated 12.7 million adults in the United States suffer from some form of COPD. Emphysema is another type of COPD that is associated with damaged air sacs in the lungs, which impact oxygen flow. In extreme cases, lung transplant surgery is necessary. It is estimated that 3,500 Americans die every year from chronic bronchitis. The U.S. National Library of Medicine reported that as of 2005, three in every 100 Americans suffer from it.
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