The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Understanding chronic bronchitis symptoms is half the battle.
The other half is knowing what to do about them.
Contrary to popular belief, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), is the combination of two primary conditions: emphysema, and chronic bronchitis. In the case of the former (emphysema), this disease is marked by the gradual degrading of the lungs alveolar walls, causing the more prominent conditions of lung disease such as shortness of breath and an inability to expel air efficiently. In the case of the latter (chronic bronchitis), this condition is defined by a frequent and persistent cough that seems to follow the patient without a catalyst (dust or pollen in the air).
Although chronic bronchitis and emphysema are typically found in combination, forming what is known as COPD, chronic bronchitis can often be experienced by itself. For this article, we at the Lung Institute will be focusing on chronic bronchitis symptoms, and more specifically, tips and recommendations to deal with them.
This is your official guide to Chronic Bronchitis Symptoms and What You Can Do About Them.
Chronic Bronchitis Symptoms – An Overview
As we mentioned, chronic bronchitis is one of the major conditions commonly attributed to COPD. As a condition that involves the inflammation of the lungs’ air passages, bronchitis begins in the trachea (windpipe) and in the large and small bronchi. Typically, bronchitis stems from an irritation or infection and can be short (in the case of acute) or consistent (in the case of chronic).
In the case of chronic bronchitis, the real problem occurs when the thin mucous linings of the lungs become inflamed. As your body kicks in its auto-immune response to combat this (which sparks the inflammation in the first place), the airway linings start to leak fluids. The coughing is your body’s natural method of clearing these airway passages as best it can.
Unfortunately, the result is frequent and excessive coughing, even at times when there is no phlegm or mucus present within the body. These coughs also have the tendency to be wet and painful.
Current Treatment Options for Chronic Bronchitis Symptoms
Among the current treatment options for chronic bronchitis, and other respiratory conditions commonly associated with lung disease, the most common are typically:
Inhalers (short-acting and long-acting bronchodilators)
These inhalers are the most common form of treatment for chronic lung disease. They help a patient find relief from their symptoms (rather than addressing disease progression directly). These medications work quickly to give relief during an exacerbation, and peace of mind that your medication will prevent future flare-ups to the best of its ability.
The side effects of these medications can range from headaches to fatigue and nausea, so use only as directed and as prescribed by your primary physician.
Supplemental Oxygen Therapy
When it comes to the relief of dyspnea—or shortness of breath—there are few treatment options as effective as supplemental oxygen because of its ability to provide oxygen to a patient instantly. Although an oxygen tank can be a godsend for those with COPD and other lung diseases, it’s important to note these tanks tend to foster dependence. They only work to relieve symptoms of lung disease as long as the oxygen is available, while the overall progression of the disease goes unaffected.
Surgery—Lung Transplant and Reduction
Lung transplants can be a great aid to those at some of the later stages of COPD. They effectively restore the respiratory capability of those who once had terminally ill lungs. The danger of even a successful lung transplant is the constant need for immune suppressing drugs after the surgery. The reality is that donated lungs are foreign to the body, and therefore your body will fight to get them out, kick-starting its immune-system in order to reject them. To combat this, patients will be forced to take immune-suppressive drugs which ultimately can lead to a greater risk of disease and infection from outside elements—like the flu.
On the other hand, lung reduction surgery has yielded promising results. The procedure involves cutting out parts of the lung that aren’t working, thereby boosting the effectiveness of the remaining whole. Lung reduction surgery has shown great success in restoring lung function and improving quality of life to patients.
Chronic bronchitis symptoms can be frustrating and demotivating. The frequent coughing can cause exacerbations, tire you out, and generally make life harder to manage and deal with. However, improvement is possible.
It just takes the courage of a first step.
When medications, supplemental oxygen and lifestyle changes fail to improve your quality of life in the way that you may expect, it may be time to consider stem cell therapy. Rather than addressing the symptoms of lung disease, stem cell therapy may directly affect disease progression and may improve quality of life.
For more information on stem cell therapy and what it could mean for your life, contact us today or call us at (800) 729-3065. Our patient coordinators will walk you through our available treatment options, talk through your current health and medical history and determine a qualifying treatment plan that works best for you.
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