Know the basics
What is chronic bronchitis?
Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes. They are airways that carry air to your lung. People who have bronchitis often have a persistent cough that brings up thickened, discolored mucus. Bronchitis may be either acute or chronic.
Chronic bronchitis is one type of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). The inflamed bronchial tubes produce a lot of mucus. This leads to coughing and difficulty breathing.
How common is chronic bronchitis?
This health condition is extremely common. It commonly affects more females than males. It can affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
Know the symptoms
What are the symptoms of chronic bronchitis?
The common symptoms of chronic bronchitis are:
- White, yellowish-gray or green;
- Shortness of breath;
- Slight fever and chills;
- Chest discomfort.
There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:
- Lasts more than three weeks;
- Prevents you from sleeping;
- Is accompanied by a fever higher than 380C;
- Produces discolored mucus;
- Is associated with wheezing or shortness of breath.
Know the causes
What causes chronic bronchitis?
Acute bronchitis is usually caused by viruses, typically the same viruses that cause colds and flu (influenza). Antibiotics don’t kill viruses, so this type of medication isn’t useful in most cases of bronchitis.
The most common cause of chronic bronchitis is smoking cigarettes. Air pollution and dust or toxic gases in the environment or workplace also can contribute to the condition.
Know the risk factors
What increases my risk for chronic bronchitis?
There are many risk factors for chronic bronchitis, such as:
- Cigarette smoke.People who smoke or who live with a smoker are at higher risk of both acute bronchitis and chronic bronchitis.
- Low resistance.This may result from another acute illness, such as a cold, or from a chronic condition that compromises your immune system. Older adults, infants, and young children have greater vulnerability to infection.
- Exposure to irritants on the job.Your risk of developing bronchitis is greater if you work around certain lung irritants, such as grains or textiles, or are exposed to chemical fumes.
- Gastric reflux.Repeated bouts of severe heartburn can irritate your throat and make you more prone to developing bronchitis.
Understand the diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is chronic bronchitis diagnosed?
It is always a physical exam first, your doctor will use a stethoscope to listen closely to your lungs as you breathe. In some cases, your doctor may suggest:
- Chest X-ray. A chest X-ray can help determine if you have pneumonia or another condition that may explain your cough. This is especially important if you ever were or currently are a smoker.
- Sputum tests. It can be tested to see if you have whooping cough (pertussis) or other illnesses that could be helped by antibiotics. Sputum can also be tested for signs of allergies.
- Pulmonary function test. This test checks for signs of asthma or emphysema.
How is chronic bronchitis treated?
Most cases of acute bronchitis resolve without medical treatment in two weeks. In some circumstances, your doctor may prescribe medications such as antibiotics, cough medicine or an inhaler if necessary.
Lifestyle changes & Home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage chronic bronchitis?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with chronic bronchitis:
- Don’t smoke. Wear a mask when the air is polluted or if you’re exposed to irritants, such as paint or household cleaners with strong fumes.
- Use a humidifier.Warm, moist air helps relieve coughs and loosens mucus in your airways and clean it according to the manufacturer’s recommendations to avoid the growth of bacteria and fungi in the water container.
- Consider a face mask outside.If cold air aggravates your cough and causes shortness of breath, put on a cold-air face mask before you go outside.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Bronchitis. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bronchitis/basics/definition/con-20014956. Accessed September 24, 2016.
Bronchitis. http://www.webmd.com/lung/understanding-bronchitis-basics. Accessed September 24, 2016.
Bronchitis. http://www.healthline.com/health/copd/understanding-chronic-bronchitis. Accessed September 24, 2016.
Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017