Chronic Bronchitis

Bronchitis is a lung condition where the bronchi, or large airways in your lungs, become inflamed. This can cause severe coughing spells that bring up sputum (mucus or phlegm), wheezing, chest pain and shortness of breath. There are two main types of bronchitis: acute and chronic.

Acute bronchitis usually develops from a lung infection such as a cold and goes away in a week or two. Chronic bronchitis is a more serious condition that develops over time. Symptoms may get better or worse, but they will never completely go away. Over time, inflammation can cause sticky mucus to build up in the airways, leading to long-term breathing difficulties.

Key Facts about Chronic Bronchitis

  • Along with emphysema, chronic bronchitis is one of the main lung diseases that comprise COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
  • Cigarette smoking is a leading cause of chronic bronchitis. Other risk factors include exposure to indoor and outdoor air pollution like dust, fumes, or chemicals in the workplace or environment. It may also occur more often in people who have a family history of bronchitis.
  • To classify chronic bronchitis, you must have a productive cough (producing mucus or phlegm) that lasts at least three months and over the course of two years. In addition, other lung conditions like asthma must be ruled out.
  • To diagnose chronic bronchitis, your healthcare provider will ask you about your health and family history, conduct a physical exam and review the results of your lung function tests. Spirometry is a common lung function test that can determine if you have COPD. Other tests or procedures your healthcare provider may order include a chest X ray, CT scan and a blood test to check your oxygen levels.
  • There is no cure for chronic bronchitis or COPD, but treatments include medications like bronchodilators that open your airways, quitting smoking, oxygen therapy and pulmonary rehabilitation.

Visit our COPD section to learn more »

Freedom From Smoking Clinic
Detroit, MI | May 29, 2024