What is Chronic Bronchitis?
Chronic bronchitis can occur as an acute disease in your life. Its symptoms may last for only a few days or weeks. However, if the symptoms of the disease persist for long periods of time or recur frequently, you may have chronic bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis often occurs alongside emphysema, which is the formation of COPD.
Bronchitis inhibits your ability to intake the necessary amounts of oxygen to function properly. This makes it difficult for you to participate in physical activities, and eventually, makes it difficult to perform simple daily tasks.
Chronic bronchitis is an incurable disease, but medical treatment can help slow its progression and control its symptoms. If you experience the symptoms of chronic bronchitis, it’s important to seek medical treatment immediately since the disease is more manageable in its earlier stages.
What are the symptoms of chronic bronchitis?
Depending on your diagnosis, your emphysema treatment may include:
- Bronchodilators – Bronchodilators help relax the muscles in the airways of your lungs, which should assist with your ability to breathe more clearly.
- Steroids – Steroids help fight inflammation in the airways, but they produce undesirable side-effects, such as easy bruising and acne. They are typically used by patients who have frequent flare-ups of emphysema symptoms.
- Antibiotics – Emphysema symptoms are worsened by other lung infections, such as pneumonia. If you contract another lung infection, antibiotics should help fight it and assist with your ability to breathe clearly while sick.
- Oxygen therapy – Severe emphysema inhibits your body’s ability to get the necessary amounts of oxygen. In these cases, you may need oxygen support. Some patients only need a few minutes of oxygen therapy per day, while others require round-the-clock supplemental oxygen.
- Pulmonary rehabilitation – A pulmonary rehabilitative therapist can help manage the symptoms of emphysema by educating the patient, providing nutritional guidance and developing exercise habits that help your lungs function. Natural COPD treatments from the Lung Health Institute.
At the Lung Health Institute, we offer treatments aimed at empowering your body’s natural ability to fight inflammation. Some of our treatments include:
- Anti-Inflammatory Initiative™ (Ai²™); – The goal of AI² is to introduce the right nutrients into your life to help reduce inflammation. There are three different levels of AI² plans to help meet the needs of different patients.
- Lung Restoration Treatment™ – Our Lung Restoration Treatment™ uses your body’s own blood cells to target lung disease and assist in reducing inflammation.
Chronic bronchitis shares the same symptoms as acute bronchitis, but they are prolonged or recurring for months or years at a time.
The symptoms of bronchitis include the following:
- Persistent coughing with mucus production, and sometimes, blood
- Shortness of breath
- Tightness of the chest
- Slight fever
What causes chronic bronchitis?
One of the main causes of chronic bronchitis is smoking cigarettes. However, the disease may be caused by a number of factors, so even if you’re not a smoker, you should seek medical attention for its symptoms.
Besides smoking, the causes of chronic bronchitis include:
- Prolonged exposure to breathing dust, chemicals and other foreign agents
- Acid reflux
- Infections that inhibit immune system function
Those who are in more fragile states of life, such as infants and the elderly, are slightly more at risk for developing bronchitis than others. Regardless of your age, if you’re experiencing bronchitis symptoms, you should seek medical attention.
How is chronic bronchitis diagnosed?
Bronchitis shares many symptoms with a common cold and other acute respiratory conditions. Your physician will perform a series of tests to determine whether the causes of your symptoms are bronchitis or something else. A big clue is if the symptoms are prolonged or recurring.
Tests your physician may order to test for chronic bronchitis include:
- Chest x-ray
- Pulmonary function tests
- Sputum tests, which measure the mucus in your lungs
For an accurate diagnosis, your physician will also review your medical history, ask you questions about your health and symptoms and discuss smoking and other lifestyle habits.
How is chronic bronchitis treated?
As mentioned earlier, chronic bronchitis has no cure. Acute bronchitis will usually recede after a few days or weeks.
With acute bronchitis, the risk of severe complications is small, but it may lead to pneumonia. Because of this, it’s still important to seek medical attention for assistance in managing symptoms until the disease recedes.
With chronic bronchitis, the treatment objective is to slow its progression and control the symptoms.
Depending on the severity of the disease, your age and overall health, treatment for chronic bronchitis may include:
- Bronchodilators – these help relax and open the bronchial tubes so that you might experience clear breathing
- Steroids – these help reduce inflammation which may help reduce the amount of fluid that leaks into your lungs
- Antibiotics – these fight other infections that might aggravate your chronic bronchitis symptoms
- Oxygen therapy – If you’re oxygen intake is severely inhibited, you may require supplemental oxygen at certain times throughout the day or for the entire day
- Pulmonary rehabilitation – this includes training, education, exercises and nutritional guidance to assist with your ability to breathe clearly and help improve your quality of life with chronic bronchitis
Is chronic bronchitis preventable?
Your chances of developing chronic bronchitis are reduced if you take steps to avoid irritation of the lungs. If you’re a smoker, quitting will greatly reduce your risk for chronic bronchitis.
If you work in an environment with lots of dust, smoke, chemicals or asbestos, you should follow safety procedures and wear proper safety equipment. Working unprotected in these environments increases your risk of chronic bronchitis.
Additionally, you should get vaccinated regularly and follow good hygiene practices to help avoid catching infections that could lead to bronchitis.
Would you like to speak with one of our patient coordinators at the Lung Health Institute about chronic bronchitis? Contact us today to schedule your free consultation to discover your treatment options and address your concerns.