The official blog of the Lung Institute.
When we talk about medical diseases, we never consider the history behind that disease. For example, did you know that before polio become a major disease in the 20th century, that it was actually documented by early Egyptians in paintings and carvings? Chronic bronchitis is also a condition that has seen its story unfold throughout the course of history.
The Timeline of Chronic Bronchitis
Elements of bronchitis have been measured and briefly discussed about by the Greek physician Hippocrates. Although at that time, he was only talking about asthma as the main cause for shortness of breath. A Swiss physician by the name of Theophile Bonet described COPD as a separate medical disease. Having performed over 3,000 autopsies on his patients, Bonet first described the effects of emphysema on the lungs. Elements of his research involved a basic understanding of what would later become known as chronic bronchitis.
In 1814, British Physician Charles Badham became the first to use the term “bronchitis” to denote “inflammatory changes in the mucous membrane.” This changed the way that doctors viewed a variety of medical conditions. Moving ahead to 1821, Dr. Rene Laennec, known as the father of chest medicine thanks in part to his invention of the stethoscope, accurately discovered the relationship between emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Laennec became the first to connect bronchitis to severe shortness of breath, and he was the first to define bronchitis as “lungs filled with mucus fluid.”
In 1837, Dr. William Stokes became the first person to use the term “chronic bronchitis.” To him, chronic bronchitis was the inflammation of the mucus membrane which caused the cells to dilate, making it harder to breathe. Stokes believed that some form of bronchitis was evident in nearly all diseases of the lungs (asthma, pneumonia, etc.) Enter John Hutchinson in 1846, the very man that invented the spirometer. Despite believing that his device was limited in its use, it became (and still is!) the prominent tool used in diagnosing and treating many lung diseases.
By 1870, emphysema and chronic bronchitis were clearly noted as related diseases, and descriptions were present regarding the breakdown of lung tissue that resulted in progression of the disease that resulted in hyperinflation of the lungs. For the next 100 years, doctors went on to learn more about the effects of chronic bronchitis on the lungs. Researchers found that the lungs were directly affected by breathing in toxic smoke and that oxygen support could help sufferers of this aggressive disease.
As you can probably tell, there is quite a bit of history involved with chronic bronchitis. A number of doctors and researchers have adapted over time to understand this disease more clearly. Now there are treatments available to help relieve the symptoms. If you would like to know more about treatments, contact the Lung Institute on how to bring your life back within reach by calling (800) 729-3065.