The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Coughing is something we all do. It’s our body’s way of clearing the throat and breathing passages, so we can breathe a little easier. But what happens when that cough doesn’t go away?
According to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 8.7 million people diagnosed with chronic bronchitis in the United States in 2014. To better understand this chronic lung disease, learn more about chronic bronchitis symptoms.
What is Chronic Bronchitis?
Simply put, bronchitis is a condition in which the air passages of the lungs become inflamed due to an infection or irritation. This inflammation occurs in the trachea, better known as the windpipe, and the large and small bronchi. Bronchi are the tree-like air passages in the lungs. Bronchitis can be either be short-lived (acute) or re-occurring (chronic).
This irritation or infection can also cause the thin mucus linings that protects the lungs to also become inflamed. This inflammation causes the airway linings to start leaking fluids. Coughing is the body’s natural reflex to clear the air passageways in the lungs.
Acute bronchitis usually lasts for several weeks, but chronic bronchitis can last at least three months and can be on-and-off for several years, or never goes away. Chronic bronchitis is one of the most notable conditions contributing to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Who’s Affected by Chronic Bronchitis?
In short, everyone can contract chronic bronchitis. Men, women and children can contract it, but it’s individuals over the age of 45 who are more likely to develop it. Specifically, chronic bronchitis is most common in people who smoke, live in areas with a lot of air pollution and people suffering from asthma.
Chronic Bronchitis Symptoms: When to Seek a Doctor
An important thing to remember is that acute and chronic bronchitis have the same symptoms. But what separates acute from chronic bronchitis is how long these symptoms last. Since it’s easy to dismiss chronic bronchitis symptoms to other illnesses, or simply as a “smoker’s cough,” it’s important to see a doctor if you suspect something is wrong.
Not receiving proper treatment early may increase the risk of causing more severe lung damage or other respiratory problems. Below are some symptoms which may be a sign that it’s time to see a doctor to help combat chronic bronchitis symptoms.
- Your cough lasts more than three weeks.
- Sleeping is extremely difficult due to the constant cough.
- Your cough is accompanied by fever higher than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Discolored mucus (sputum) is produced with the constant cough. This can be clear, white, yellowish-gray or green.
- If blood appears with your cough.
- Chest discomfort or tightness.
- If your cough is associated with wheezing or shortness of breath. Wheezing is when there is an abnormal whistling noise while breathing out.
- Unexplained weight loss.
Chronic Bronchitis Symptoms Treatment
One of the most common treatment options for people with bronchitis is a bronchodilator or theophylline. Bronchodilators are a type of medicine, usually administered through an inhaler, which opens the airways in the lungs. Theophylline is an oral medication which relaxes the muscles in the airways to make breathing easier. If those don’t work, doctors may prescribe steroids or a pulmonary rehabilitation program, which consists of breathing exercises and counseling to live a lung-healthy life.
Chronic Bronchitis Symptom Treatment Alternatives
Some chronic bronchitis patients have found success using lung medications and pulmonary rehab programs, but others have not been so fortunate. For patients looking for new way to improve chronic bronchitis symptoms, stem cell therapy has shown promise.
Here, at the Lung Institute, we use autologous stem cells from the patient’s own body, which may improve quality of life in those with chronic lung disease.
If you or someone you know is battling chronic bronchitis, emphysema, COPD, pulmonary fibrosis or interstitial lung disease, it may be time to consider the Lung Institute. For more information on stem cell therapy, please contact us or call (800) 729-3065.