Coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath – just another day in the life of someone living with chronic bronchitis.
Bronchitis is technically an inflammation of the bronchial tubes, which bring air to your lungs. When airways are inflamed, it is more difficult to breathe. The inflammation also triggers excess mucus production in the airways. You’ve probably heard the term bronchitis, or even been diagnosed with acute bronchitis at some point. The same viruses the cause colds and the flu often times causes acute bronchitis.
So what sets the standard for a chronic bronchitis diagnosis?
Chronic bronchitis is characterized by a daily productive cough that lasts at least 3 months, in two consecutive years. Respiratory tract irritants are the trigger for chronic bronchitis; the most common irritant being cigarette smoke. When cigarette smoke is inhaled, the cilia that line the respiratory system either snap off or become paralyzed. These fine, hair-like growths are essential in moving mucus along pathways. Once impaired, airways can become inflamed and narrowed leading to breathing problems and symptoms like coughing and wheezing. A series of testing may be done to help solidify a chronic bronchitis diagnosis that may include: Pulmonary Function Testing, Chest X-Ray, or a special type of CT scan for your lungs.
Chronic bronchitis is a long-term condition that will keep coming back, or will never going away completely. COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is synonymous with chronic bronchitis. Progression may lead to emphysema, or worse. If you smoke, it is important to consider a lifestyle change, avoid secondhand smoke and poor air conditions.
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