The official blog of the Lung Institute.
When it comes to living with chronic bronchitis, finding the right treatment options for you can be challenging. Inhalers, medications, oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation, stem cell therapy and lifestyle changes may be recommended as chronic bronchitis treatment options. But, how do you know which could work best for you? We’re here to help by bringing you the information you need about chronic bronchitis treatment options.
Chronic Bronchitis and How It Affects Your Lungs
Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are two conditions that contribute to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Emphysema gradually destroys the lungs’ tiny air sacs (alveoli), making it progressively more difficult to breathe. In chronic bronchitis, the lungs’ airways become inflamed, leading to increased mucus production. Often, people with chronic bronchitis have a wet and painful cough.
Chronic Bronchitis Treatment Options and How They Work
Chronic bronchitis treatment options vary from person to person. You and your doctor will work together to develop the best chronic bronchitis treatment plan for you. Your doctor may recommend pulmonary function tests, such as spirometry, lung plethysmography or a 6-minute walk test to help your doctor determine how to proceed. However, there are some common chronic bronchitis treatments.
Inhalers are one of the most common forms of chronic bronchitis treatment options. Bronchodilators can be short-acting or long-acting and work by opening the airways. Short-acting bronchodilators, or rescue inhalers, work to relieve sudden chronic bronchitis symptoms. Long-acting bronchodilators work to control chronic bronchitis symptoms over time.
Sometimes, doctors prescribe combination inhalers. Combination inhalers combine two different types of medications into one inhaler. Often, they combine an oral corticosteroid to reduce inflammation and a bronchodilator to open the airways.
In addition to inhalers, your doctor may recommend other types of medications. For example, antibiotics may be needed to address an infection. People with chronic bronchitis are more prone to infections, so it’s important to see your doctor regularly. Theophylline may also be to help relax the muscles in your airways and to reduce shortness of breath. Sometimes, oral corticosteroids may be prescribed to help reduce inflammation within the lungs and airways.
Because chronic lung diseases make breathing difficult, many people have trouble maintaining an adequate blood oxygen level. All cells, organs and tissues in the body need plenty of oxygen in order to function properly. If there’s not enough oxygen, hypoxemia can occur. If needed, doctors prescribe oxygen therapy to help people maintain a healthy blood oxygen level and get the oxygen they need.
Some doctors recommend pulmonary rehabilitation to help their patients learn how to breathe and function better. During pulmonary rehabilitation, you will work with a team of doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, counselors and trained medical staff. They will work with you to help you improve your physical condition and learn how to manage your chronic lung disease. Pulmonary rehabilitation combines education, exercise and support to its participants.
Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cell therapy is a newer chronic bronchitis treatment option that uses a person’s own stem cells to help promote healing from within the lungs. For some people, stem cell therapy has helped them return to their favorite activities, like going to dinner with friends, playing games with their grandchildren and doing more household chores. Stem cell therapy may address disease progression and may improve quality of life.
Often, doctors recommend lifestyle changes to help people with chronic bronchitis improve their overall health. For example, stopping smoking is one of the best steps people can take to improve their overall health and lung health. In order for any of the chronic bronchitis treatment options to work to their fullest, being smoke-free is essential. Along with quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise may also have a significant effect on your health.
The key is to start small and build up over time. Talk with your doctor about what types and amounts of exercise are right for you. If you can only walk to the mailbox and back at first, that’s a good place to start. Set goals for yourself to walk to the mailbox and back a certain amount of times each day and increase your walking time and distance slowly and as directed by your doctor.
In addition to exercise, eating a diet rich in healthy proteins, fruits, vegetables and plenty of water can make a world of difference. Drinking plenty of water may help thin mucus, which makes it easier to cough up. Consider eating more grilled or baked chicken and fish, nuts, beans, citrus, a variety of fruits and vegetables. If you’re unsure about what foods may work best, ask your doctor to recommend a registered dietician to help you create the best diet plan for you.
Taking the Next Steps
Now that you know more about the chronic bronchitis treatment options, you’ll be better prepared to discuss them with your doctor. By learning all you can about your condition, the treatment options and the next steps, you’re being proactive in your healthcare.
Sometimes, it may take some trial and error before finding the treatment plan that works best for you. Remember to take your medications and inhalers exactly as prescribed by your doctor, and always let your doctor know if you see any changes in your overall health or lung health. Often, a combination of chronic bronchitis treatment options are used to achieve the best results possible.
If you feel like it’s time to try something new in your chronic bronchitis treatment plan, it may be time to consider stem cell therapy. Our medical staff can walk you through the process every step of the way and are happy to answer your questions. If you or a loved one has chronic bronchitis, emphysema, COPD or another chronic lung disease and would like to learn more about stem cell therapy, contact us at (800) 729-3065.