In order to figure out what chronic bronchitis is, you need to understand what a pulmonary disease like bronchitis is characterized by. Bronchitis is characterized by irritation or inflammation in the bronchial tubes or airways in your lungs that allow air to pass through. When this irritation occurs, your body responds by producing mucus in the airways, which clogs them and makes it difficult for air to enter your lungs. Bronchitis causes an uncomfortable cough, trouble breathing, and tightness in the chest. If bronchitis persists, it’s known as chronic bronchitis, which is a serious pulmonary condition. Below is an overview of the main symptoms of chronic bronchitis and what you should pay attention to.
What Is Chronic Bronchitis?
Chronic bronchitis is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) which is characterized by bronchitis lasting for an extended period of time—usually three months or longer. This condition is extremely common; as more than 3 million cases of chronic bronchitis are diagnosed each year in the U.S. Some risk factors for chronic bronchitis include age, weak immune system or other pulmonary diseases.
Causes Of Chronic Bronchitis
Chronic bronchitis is caused by a number of factors, with the most common being smoking. Inhaling smoke promotes irritation in the airways, promoting the production of mucus. People with exposure to additional substances that can irritate lungs such as chemicals, dust, fumes, etc. are also at risk of developing chronic bronchitis. Moreover, people with other illnesses that depress the immune system are also at a higher risk of developing chronic bronchitis because of their susceptibility to infection.
Chronic Bronchitis Symptoms
The main telltale symptom of chronic bronchitis is a cough that persists for a longer period of time. Oftentimes the cough may be painful and can cause soreness in the chest and abdominal muscles. If a cough is severe, it could have enough force to injure the chest wall or even break a person’s ribs. A cough will usually produce mucus and be accompanied by wheezing and shortness of breath. In addition to that, other symptoms include fatigue, slight fever, chills and tightness in the chest.
Is Chronic Bronchitis Contagious?
Many people wonder if chronic bronchitis is contagious and the answer depends on how bronchitis originated. Chronic bronchitis is not deemed contagious if it was the result of smoking or inhaling other irritants. However, it can be contagious if it was obtained due to a viral or bacterial infection.
Chronic Bronchitis Treatment
To diagnose bronchitis, your doctor will look at your symptoms and test your breathing. If diagnosed with chronic bronchitis, your pulmonologist will recommend plenty of fluids, as well as a number of medications that work to clear the mucus from your airways to improve your breathing. These include the use of bronchodilator inhalers or oral steroids. Your doctor may also prescribe oxygen therapy to help you breathe easier and deliver much-needed oxygen to your body. Additionally, if a lifestyle choice like smoking has caused your chronic bronchitis, your doctor will recommend that you quit and provide you with additional resources that will help you to do so.
Who Can Help
If you experience any abovementioned symptoms and feel you may have chronic bronchitis, make sure you address your concerns to your pulmonologist as soon as possible. Remember that, if left untreated, chronic bronchitis can move deeper in the respiratory system and evolve into pneumonia, which will be much harder to eradicate. Consider calling Pulmonary Associates of Brandon to make an appointment with one of our competent pulmonologists, who will be able to identify the origins of your chronic bronchitis and find the right treatment taking into account specific details of your conditions.