Chronic bronchitis

Bronchitis is the inflammation of the bronchi. When you have chronic bronchitis it means that you have the condition long term, usually for life. Bronchitis causes an increased production of mucus and a nasty cough. In order to be diagnosed with chronic bronchitis you must have had the cough and the expectoration of mucus everyday for at least 3 months a year and for at least 2 years in a row.

Having chronic bronchitis can cause difficulty breathing, narrowing of the breathing tubes or bronchi, and respiratory infections. You may also experience swelling of the feet, heart failures, bluish colored lips or skin, or abnormal lung signs. Other lung conditions may mimic the same symptoms so it is necessary to see a doctor for a diagnosis of chronic bronchitis. It is important to rule out other conditions that can also be very serious.

Causes of chronic bronchitis include bacterial or viral infections, environmental pollutants and the most common cause is smoking. Chronic bronchitis can also be seen in patients that are experiencing other pulmonary diseases as well. Pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary emphysema, tuberculosis, asthma, upper respiratory infections and sinusitis are all conditions that can be associated with chronic bronchitis.
There are several tests that can be done to determine if you have chronic bronchitis. Pulmonary function tests, arterial blood gas test, pulse oximetry, x-rays and computed tomography scans (CT’s or CAT scans) are all methods used to test for chronic bronchitis as well as other conditions relating to the lungs and respiratory system.

After you have been examined and your doctor diagnoses you with have chronic bronchitis, there are a few different treatment methods that your doctor may prescribe. Depending on the severity of the bronchitis, your age, other medical conditions and the length of time your bronchitis has been left untreated may determine the type of treatments used.

First and foremost, a person suffering from this disease must quit smoking to prevent the disease from getting any worse. If a person continues to smoke, the disease may not ever get any better, even with medical treatment.

Bronchodilator medications can help to relieve symptoms of bronchitis. Inhaled or taken orally these medications can relax and open the air passages in the lungs. Steroids are also used to relieve the symptoms of chronic bronchitis, however when used as an inhalant form these can cause side effects. The possibility of heightened blood pressure, diabetes, cataracts and weakened bones should all be discussed with your doctor before taking steroids. Antibiotics may be prescribed in order to kill respiratory infections which are very common in sufferers of chronic bronchitis.

For those with advanced bronchitis it may be necessary to supplement breathing with oxygen. There are a few different forms of oxygen that one can use and that will be determined by the patient and the doctor. Often surgery is necessary to remove the small sections of damaged lung tissue. This is referred to as lung volume reduction surgery.

For people that have chronic bronchitis, one of the most important things that can help prevent further infections of the lungs is vaccinations. Patients should receive an annual flu shot and pneumonia shot every 5-7 years.

Dealing with Chronic Bronchitis can be difficult and therefore an important part of treatment is pulmonary rehabilitation. This rehabilitation process can teach special breathing techniques, help with quitting smoking, offer nutritional advice, and provide education on the disease. Often physical therapy training is important. Since a person that suffers from a pulmonary condition is often unable to do a lot of exercise, training in this area can help keep a person physically active, improving the patients health.

If you have not seen your doctor but are exhibiting signs of chronic bronchitis then you need to make an appointment right away.

Last updated on Sep 8th, 2009 and filed under Respiratory Diseases. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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