Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
 

Chronic Bronchitis

Chronic Bronchitis

Illustration of  the anatomy of the respiratory system, adult
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What is chronic bronchitis?

Chronic bronchitis means long-term inflammation of the bronchi, which results in increased production of mucus, as well as other changes.

To be classified as chronic bronchitis:

What are the symptoms of chronic bronchitis?

The following are the most common symptoms for chronic bronchitis. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

Chronic bronchitis may cause:

Other symptoms may include:

The symptoms of chronic bronchitis may resemble other lung conditions or medical problems. Consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

What are the causes of chronic bronchitis?

In acute bronchitis, bacteria or viruses may be the cause, but in chronic bronchitis there is typically no specific organism recognized as the source of the disease.

Cigarette smoking is cited as the most common contributor to chronic bronchitis, followed by:

Chronic bronchitis is often associated with other pulmonary diseases such as:

How is chronic bronchitis diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, your doctor may request the following:

What is the treatment for chronic bronchitis?

Specific treatment for chronic bronchitis will be determined by your doctor based on:

Treatment may include:

What is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)?

COPD is a term that refers to a large group of lung diseases which can interfere with normal breathing. According to the American Lung Association, more than 13 million Americans have COPD, and an additional 12 million may have impaired lung function, suggesting the disorder may be significantly underreported. As many as 24 million people may be affected. The two most common indications of COPD are chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

The causes of COPD are not fully understood. It is generally agreed that the most important cause of chronic bronchitis and emphysema is cigarette smoking. Causes such as air pollution and occupational exposures may play a role, especially when combined with cigarette smoking. Heredity also plays a contributing role in some patients' emphysema, and is especially important in a rare form due to alpha 1 anti-trypsin deficiency.

Patients with chronic bronchitis usually have a cough and sputum production for many years before they develop shortness of breath.

Patients with emphysema usually have shortness of breath and develop a cough and sputum during a respiratory infection, or in the later stages of the illness.

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