Chronic bronchitis

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[Image: Bronchitis_(334x500).jpg|150px|right]

Chronic bronchitis is one of the two diseases of the lung which is referred to as [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease] (COPD). This serious condition is caused by the inflammation and irritation of the [bronchial tube|tubes] due to mucus build up therefore disallowing sufficient air from getting to the lungs.


Signs and symptoms

Chronic bronchitis is often characterized by persistent, [sputum] or [mucus]-filled cough that usually goes together with:

  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • wheezing
  • low grade fever
  • [fatigue]
  • lung infections
  • ankle, feet and leg swelling
  • blue-colored lips due to low levels of oxygen
  • frequent [cold] or flu

It is an ongoing condition exhibiting active and [expectorant cough] for at least three months to two years.

Causes and risk factors

Dependence to or long use of [cigarette smoking|tobacco smoke] is the number one cause of chronic bronchitis. It can also be caused by long-term inhalation of toxic fumes or chemicals.

The inflammation of the bronchi is normally caused by the paralysis of the [cilia] which stops the normal movement of the mucus from the air ways and this is the primary cause of mucus build-up due to pathogenic microbes. No particular organism is specified as the cause of disease unlike [acute bronchitis] which is mostly viral or bacterial in nature. Air pollution, allergies and infections can make it worse. People at risk of developing chronic bronchitis include:

  • Smokers
  • The elderly, infants, and young children
  • Patients with heart or lung disease

Diagnosis and tests

Chronic bronchitis is usually diagnosed through medical history and examination of the lungs. A physical examination will frequently reveal wheezing, weak breath sounds and extended expiration.

Chronic bronchitis is diagnosed by means of:

  • [Lung function tests|Pulmonary function tests] (PFT):
    • [Spirometry] – measures the inhalation and exhalation of the lungs plus the efficiency rate of the ability to transfer oxygen to the blood. This is performed in patients with persistent cough.
    • [Peak flow meter] – assesses the changes in breathing and response [Fondue Forks to certain medications.
  • Chest [X-ray]
  • [Arterial blood gas] (ABG) – a type of blood test which evaluates the carbon dioxide and oxygen levels in the blood.
  • [Pulse oximetry] – employs light waves to measure oxygen levels in the blood.
  • [CAT scan]


Chronic bronchitis is a long-term disease of the lung which never goes away completely. Symptoms may be treated by means of:

  • oral medication
  • bronchodilators
  • oxygen
  • lung reduction surgery – to remove damaged areas of the lung
  • lung transplant
  • therapy

Possible complications

Chronic bronchitis can lead or increase the risk of developing the following conditions:

  • [pneumonia]
  • [emphysema]
  • [cor pulmonale] or right-sided heart failure
  • [pulmonary hypertension]

Prevention and control

Chronic bronchitis can be prevented by:

  • not smoking or smoking cessation
  • reduce exposure to environmental pollution
  • washing hands often to avoid spreading microbes

Cases in the Philippines

According to the Department of Health (DOH), [chronic lower respiratory diseases] or [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease] is one of the .top 10 causes of death in the Philippines in 2009.


DEFAULTSORT: Chronic bronchitis [Category: Diseases and illnesses] [Category: Respiratory diseases]