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Chronic Bronchitis

According to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 8.7 million people diagnosed with chronic bronchitis in the United States in 2014. Chronic bronchitis is an ongoing condition that can make getting air into the lungs difficult. The tube that is connected to the lungs (trachea) and the grape cluster- like air passages (bronchi) are constantly irritated and swollen causing slimy mucus to be produced in great quantities. Those affected are usually:

  • People who are older than 45 years
  • Tobacco smokers
  • Women (diagnosed twice as often as men)
  • Existing lung disease (such as asthma and emphysema)
  • Contact with dust, chemical fumes, and vapors

The most frequent complaint associated with chronic bronchitis is cough that does not seem to get better. A cough is the body’s natural reflex to clear the lungs and airway. This is often mistakenly referred to as a smoker’s cough, and although smoking may contribute to the condition, it is not always the cause. Smoking can aggravate the lungs and worsen the symptoms of chronic bronchitis. Below are signs and symptoms of chronic bronchitis.

  • A cough that last more than 3 weeks
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing (abnormal whistling noise while breathing out)
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Fever higher than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Discolored mucus (sputum) is produced with the constant cough
  • Unexplained weight loss

People diagnosed with chronic bronchitis should be mindful of irritants that can aggravate this condition. Observe for high levels of air pollution, increased pollen counts that can precipitate seasonal allergies, and lung infections like the common cold and pneumonia. Your health care provider can diagnose chronic bronchitis and recommend treatment to relieve symptoms and tom help make breathing easier. Treatment plans can involve the use of inhalers, oral medications, breathing exercises, and counseling on healthy lung practices. Also, you may want to ask your health provider about getting an annual flu and pneumonia vaccine.

Please click here to access the HPAP for chronic bronchitis.