Chronic Bronchitis — the Basics

Written by: Lung Health
July 3, 2019

The lungs are vital organs. When we breathe, the lungs transfer oxygen from the air into our bloodstream. Due to the importance of this basic function, any conditions affecting the lungs can have a serious impact on your health and overall quality of life. Chronic bronchitis is one of the most common conditions that can affect the lungs. The CDC estimates that 16 million Americans were diagnosed with chronic bronchitis in 2016 alone. 

What Is Bronchitis?

Bronchitis is basically an inflammation of the passages that carry air to the lungs, called the bronchial tubes. Dealing with the coughing, impaired breathing and other symptoms of bronchitis can make it difficult to accomplish even simple tasks and can also negatively affect sleep and mental health. For patients dealing with chronic bronchitis, learning more about the basics of lung anatomy and how the lungs become inflamed can be very helpful.

What Are the Bronchial Tubes and How Can They Become Inflamed?

Starting with the trachea, or windpipe, the lungs then split off into two chambers through connecting tubes, called the bronchi. The air then begins to branch off into smaller and smaller air passages, called bronchioles, before traveling to the alveoli, which are the tiny air sacs where oxygen is transferred to the bloodstream. 

The bronchi and bronchioles, especially the linings, are both very delicate and can be easily affected by viruses, bacteria, particulate matter in the air and other irritants. When any of these occur, it can trigger the body’s natural inflammatory response, particularly the production of mucus. This, in turn, can cause your body to cough in order to clear it from your body.

Acute and Chronic Bronchitis — What’s the Difference?

Acute bronchitis refers to bronchial inflammation that lasts for a short period of time before the lungs return to a normal level of functioning. Typical causes include viral and bacterial infections. 

Chronic bronchitis is typically defined as mucus production and coughing that lasts for at least 3 months with recurring bouts for at least 2 consecutive years. Major causes of chronic bronchitis include:

  • Smoking 
  • Poor air quality
  • Work-related chemicals and fumes

It is important to see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment of any cough that lasts longer than 2 to 3 weeks. 

Diagnosing and Treating Chronic Bronchitis

Diagnosing chronic bronchitis typically involves a physical examination, chest X-ray and other diagnostic tests. Treatments can include cough medication, steroidal medication and respiratory therapy. Another option many patients turn to is regenerative treatment, including the cellular therapy we provide at Lung Health Institute. By using a sample of a patient’s own blood, this treatment works to restore lung function and manage bronchitis symptoms. 

Take the next step to find relief. Contact one of our patient coordinators today for more information or to schedule a free consultation.

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Every day the Lung Health Institute is changing people’s lives. Our duty and obligation is to help our patients, and we know we are doing something special for them. We measure our success by our patients’ success and their satisfaction with our services and the care they receive from our dedicated staff.


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