Chronic bronchitis is long-term inflammation of the bronchi. It is common among smokers. People with chronic bronchitis tend to get lung infections more easily. They also have episodes of acute bronchitis, when symptoms are worse.
To be classified as chronic bronchitis: you must have a cough and mucus most days for at least 3 months a year, for 2 years in a row. Other causes of symptoms, such as tuberculosis or other lung diseases, must be ruled out.
Causes of Chronic Bronchitis
Chronic bronchitis is not caused by a virus or bacteria.
The main cause of chronic bronchitis is cigarette smoking. Air pollution and the work environment may also play a role.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
COPD is a common, preventable, and treatable chronic lung disease that affects men and women worldwide. COPD is the third leading cause of death worldwide, causing 3.23 million deaths in 2019. In 15 years, COPD is expected to become the leading cause of death worldwide. Over 80% of these deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries. Abnormalities in the small airways of the lungs lead to limitation of airflow in and out of the lungs. A number of processes cause the airways to become narrow.
There may be the destruction of parts of the lung, mucus blocking the airways, and inflammation and swelling of the airway lining.
COPD is sometimes called “emphysema” or “chronic bronchitis”. Emphysema usually refers to the destruction of the tiny air sacs at the end of the airways in the lungs. Chronic bronchitis refers to chronic cough with the production of phlegm resulting from inflammation in the airways.
COPD and asthma share common symptoms (cough, wheeze, and difficulty breathing) and people may have both conditions.
Common symptoms of COPD develop from mid-life onwards, including breathlessness or difficulty breathing, chronic cough, often with phlegm and tiredness. As COPD progresses, people find it more difficult to carry out their normal daily activities, often due to breathlessness.
There may be a considerable financial burden due to limitation of workplace and home productivity, and costs of medical treatment. During flare-ups, people with COPD find their symptoms become much worse – they may need to receive extra treatment at home or be admitted to hospital for emergency care. Severe flare-ups can be life-threatening.
People with COPD often have other medical conditions such as heart disease, osteoporosis, musculoskeletal disorders, lung cancer, depression and anxiety.
COPD develops gradually over time, often resulting factors: tobacco exposure from active smoking or passive exposure to second-hand smoke; occupational exposure to dusts, fumes or chemicals; indoor air pollution: biomas fuel (wood, animal dung, crop residue) or coal is frequently used for cooking and heating in low- and middle-income countries with high levels of smoke exposure; early life events such as poor growth in utero, prematurity, and frequent o severe respiratory infections in childhood that prevent maximum lung growth; asthma in childhood; and a rare genetic condition called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, which can cause COPD at a young age.
Smoking is the main risk factor for chronic bronchitis, up to 75% of people who have chronic bronchitis smoke or used to smoke.
Other risk factors for chronic bronchitis are long-term exposure to other lung irritants, such as secondhand smoke, air pollution, chemical fumes and dusts from the environment or workplace. Most people who have chronic bronchitis are at least 40 years old whe their symptoms begin.
Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency
Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency is an uncommon disease.It is not a rare disease but is rarely diagnosed.
Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency is a risk factor for chronic bronchitis. It is a genetic disorder (an autosomal recessive).
The most common manifestation is emphysema, which becomes evident by the third to fourth decade.A less common manifestation of the deficiency is liver disease, which occurs in children and adults, and may result in cirrhosis and liver failure. Environmental factors, particularly cigarette smoking, greatly increase the risk of emphysema at an earlier age . Also, smokers who get chronic bronchitis are more likely to get it if they have a family history of COPD.
Bronchitis symptoms often happen with other lung diseases, such as: asthma, pulmonary emphysema, scarring of the lungs (pulmonary fibrosis), sinusitis, tuberculosis or upper respiratory infections.
Each person may have slightly different symptoms. Symptoms may include cough, often called smoker’s cough, coughing up mucus (expectoration), wheezing, and chest discomfort. People with chronic bronchitis often have a cough and make mucus for many years before they have shortness of breath.
Chronic bronchitis may cause disability, frequent and severe infections that affect your airways, narrowing and plugging of your breathing tubes (bronchi) and trouble breathing.Other symptoms may include bluish fingernails, lips, and skin because of lower oxygen levels, wheezing and crackling sounds with breathing, swollen feet and heart failure. The symptoms of chronic bronchitis may look like other lung conditions or health problems.
There is no cure for chronic bronchitis, and people diagnosed with chronic bronchitis have an elevated risk for developing other lung conditions and infections, such as: emphysema, severe shortness of breath (dyspnea), respiratory failure, coughing up blood, high red blood cell count (polycythemia), which can increase your risk of developing blood clots and other health problems, collapsed lung and cor pulmonale (right-sided heart failure).
If you smoke, the most important thing you can do is to stop. The more smoke you breathe in, the more it damages your lungs. If you stop smoking, you’ll breathe better, you won’t cough as much, and your lungs will begin to heal. You’ll also reduce your chance of getting lung cancer.
Try to avoid other things that can irritate your lungs, such as aerosol products like hairspray, spray deodorant, and spray paint. Also avoid breathing in dust or chemical fumes. To protect your lungs, wear a mask over your nose and mouth if you are using paint, paint remover, varnish, or anything else with strong fumes.
There is no cure for COPD but early diagnosis and treatment are important to slow the progression of symptoms and reduce the risk of flare-ups. Take regular exercise. Get vaccinated against pneumonia, influenza and coronavirus.