Chronic Bronchitis – This condition is inflammation of the main airways in the lungs that continues for a long time, and keeps returning. Cigarette smoking is the most common cause of chronic bronchitis, and the more a person smokes, the more likely it is that he or she will develop serious chronic bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis is one form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and chronic bronchitis, emphysema and asthma, combined, are a leading cause of death in the United States.
Key symptoms of chronic bronchitis are;
- Coughing that produces sputum, or mucus, that may be streaks of blood in it
- Shortness of breath which is made worse by exertion or mild activity
- Frequent infections in the respiratory (breathing) system that make the symptoms worse
- Fatigue, or tiredness
- Swelling of the ankles, feet and legs
A diagnosis of chronic bronchitis is usually made when the cough andexcess mucus production last for 3 months or more, and occur at least 2years in a row without any other disease or condition that could be the cause.
Prevention of chronic bronchitis is so important because there is no cure. Treatment, therefore is focused on decreasing the symptoms and preventing complications. The most important thing to do as a part of treatment is to quit smoking and avoid any other respiratory irritants. Otherwise, the chronic bronchitis will get worse.
Support Groups may also be helpful for some persons with chronic bronchitis or emphysema/chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Possible complications of chronic bronchitis include:
- Acute bronchitis
- Heart failure
- Respiratory or lung failure
- Irregular heart rhythm (or arrhythmia)