What is Chronic Bronchitis?
Chronic bronchitis is one of the major conditions contributing to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Bronchitis is a condition in which the air passages of the lungs become inflamed. The inflammation occurs in the trachea (or windpipe), and in the large and small bronchi (or tree-like air passages in the lungs). Bronchitis is the result of irritation or infection, and can either be short-lived (acute) or re-occurring (chronic). When irritation or infection is present in the lungs, the thin mucous linings that protect the lungs become inflamed. As a response to the inflammation, the airway linings start to leak fluids. Coughing is the body’s natural reflex to clear the air passageways in the lung. As a result, sufferers of bronchitis often exhibit a wet, painful cough.
Virus or Infection?
Viruses that cause the common cold, upper respiratory infections and influenza can cause bronchitis.
Certain bacteria such as Mycoplasma pneumonia, which triggers “walking pneumonia,” can cause bronchitis.
Weakened Immune Systems
The elderly are prone to developing bronchitis as well as individuals with weakened immune systems.
Tobacco smokers are highly susceptible to contracting bronchitis as well as sufferers of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and emphysema. Due to the destructive nature of tobacco smoke in the lungs, smokers are far more likely to develop the chronic form of bronchitis.
Living in an area that is heavily polluted or working in an environment full of dust or chemicals can lead to bronchitis.
Acute and chronic bronchitis exhibit the same symptoms including:
Acute bronchitis is associated with a cough that can last for several weeks. The cough usually follows a cold or upper respiratory infection. It can be either a wet and mucus-based cough or dry. Typically the cough will resolve as your lungs regain strength. Sufferers of chronic bronchitis will have a cough that lasts at least 3 months for 2 years in a row. Chronic bronchitis is often exacerbated by smoking.
Wheezing is the exhibition of an abnormal whistling noise while breathing out. Wheezing from bronchitis is the result of the inflammation of the airway.
The inflammation and tightness caused by bronchitis on the airways of the lungs causes an excess production of mucus. A person suffering from bronchitis can exhibit a painful dry cough or a cough full of mucus.
Fatigue, Fever & Chills
Since bronchitis is associated with viral and bacterial infections, the symptoms of fatigue, fever and chills are also commonly associated with bronchitis.
Sufferers of bronchitis often feel chest discomfort, tightness or shortness of breath. The consistent cough attributed to bronchitis can also cause chest pain. In severe cases, coughing can cause sufferers to faint, injure their chest or break ribs.
Men, women, children and infants can contract bronchitis. Individuals 45 and over are more likely to develop bronchitis, as well as, those with weakened immune systems. The inflammation of the lungs can especially cause bronchitis in asthma sufferers. Chronic bronchitis most commonly affects smokers and people who live in highly polluted areas. If you think you might have bronchitis, it is important to avoid smoking and other pollutants that may cause irritation.
Although dealing with a chronic lung disease, such as bronchitis, can feel overwhelming, remember there’s hope. Here at the Lung Institute, we specialize in using stem cell therapy as a treatment for lung disease. If you or a loved one have any other form of lung disease, please contact one of our patient coordinators or call us at (800) 729-3065.
- Chronic bronchitis treatment options vary from person to person. Keep reading to learn more about common chronic bronchitis treatments and what they do here. Read more
- It’s easy to confuse chronic bronchitis for other lung diseases and illnesses. With your health in mind, learn more about chronic bronchitis symptoms and what to look for here. Read more