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
- low grade fever
- 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:
- 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
- lung reduction surgery – to remove damaged areas of the lung
- lung transplant
Chronic bronchitis can lead or increase the risk of developing the following conditions:
- [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.
- Respiratory Disease. University of Maryland Medical Center. (Accessed 10 November 2010)
- “What is COPD?” National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. (Accessed 10 November 2010)
- Bronchitis. MedlinePlus. (Accessed 10 November 2010)
DEFAULTSORT: Chronic bronchitis [Category: Diseases and illnesses] [Category: Respiratory diseases]