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Chronic bronchitis is a severe disease due to smoking and polluted air. This disease develops with inflammation of the lung bronchi. It causes difficult living conditions that require treatment in a short time. So what is chronic bronchitis, what are the causes, and how is it treated? Here are the answers.

What is Chronic Bronchitis?

Bronchitis is a disease that occurs with inflammation of the air-filled bronchial tubes in the lungs and is common in winter months. There are two types of bronchitis, acute and chronic.

Acute bronchitis develops due to colds and respiratory tract infections. On the other hand, chronic bronchitis is seen in more severe cases, where the inflammation in the bronchi is continuous.

Chronic bronchitis, common in long-term smokers, differs from acute bronchitis. Acute bronchitis is usually cured within ten days, while chronic bronchitis continues in recurrent attacks and may cause permanent damage to the body. Unlike acute bronchitis, chronic bronchitis is vital and therefore requires treatment.

What Are the Symptoms of Chronic Bronchitis?

We suspect chronic bronchitis in the presence of cough and sputum lasting more than three months. This non-infectious disease is not contagious and shows symptoms similar to those in acute bronchitis:

  • Cough
  • White, yellow, grayish, or green sputum
  • Shortness of breath
  • Throat ache
  • Congestion in the sinuses
  • Runny nose
  • Wheezing 
  • Weakness
  • Fever and chills
  • Chest discomfort and stiffness

In chronic bronchitis, the following are also present:

  • Ankle edema
  • Cough that worsens during smoking and exercise
  • Increased cough in cold weather
  • Congestion and increased coughing at night
  • Loss of muscle strength 
  • Loss of weight

What are the Causes of Chronic Bronchitis?

Chronic bronchitis presents with intense cough and mucus lasting up to 3 months in 2 consecutive years. The most common cause of the disease is smoking. It is also more commonly seen in COPD patients and people older than 45. Other common causes of the disease include:

  • Industrial dust and smoke ingestion
  • Air pollution
  • cystic fibrosis
  • chronic asthma
  • chronic lung infections

Diagnostic Methods

At first, it can be difficult to distinguish chronic bronchitis from other colds. Therefore, in the diagnosis of chronic bronchitis, the following tests are helpful:

  • Chest X-ray: A chest X-ray explains the cough and correctly identifies the underlying cause. Smoking status is important in the patient's history.
  • Sputum Test: The mucus coughed up from the lungs is called sputum. A sputum test helps us to understand whether the antibiotic treatment is sufficient and to detect allergic reactions.
  • Pulmonary Function Test: The velocity of the air exhaled and inhaled from the lungs is measured by breathing tests. The same test also determines the presence of asthma and emphysema.

Chronic Bronchitis Treatment

Chronic bronchitis is difficult to treat at home alone, so patients should consult a doctor if symptoms persist for a long time. After the diagnosis of the disease, the treatment process initializes.

Medication: First come, anti-bronchial medicines according to the progression of the disease. Although antibiotics are beneficial for lung infections, they are not sufficient for patients with low oxygen levels in the blood and respiratory distress. In some cases, cough-relieving medicines can be used to suppress the cough. Also, there are additional medications to reduce lung inflammation if there are other diseases, such as allergies and asthma.

Therapy: Respiratory therapy is essential for chronic bronchitis, thus allowing the patient to breathe more easily—an exercise program.

Oxygen Therapy: Oxygen therapy is applied to patients with low blood oxygen levels to provide adequate oxygen. This way, more oxygen uptake is supplied through the air, and vital functions are maintained.

In addition, improving living standards in treating chronic bronchitis are also very effective in making the treatments work. These recommendations are listed as follows:

  • Drinking plenty of water during the day
  • Quitting smoking and similar tobacco products
  • Avoiding dirty, smoky, humid, and dusty environments
  • Regularly ventilate the room and maintain the humidity
  • Following a diet that supports the immune system
  • Getting fresh air into the lungs by exercising regularly
  • washing hands frequently

Chronic bronchitis should be under the control of a specialist physician. For this reason, if the chronic bronchitis is suspected, the first thing to do is to consult a doctor.

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