I have been diagnosed as having chronic bronchitis. I have had many
attacks both small and large, and have a rescue inhaler like Albuterol and a
nebulizer for when the airways become too restricted and I have acute trouble
breathing. My doctor suggested that I stop smoking and the problem would
clear up unless I had an allergic reaction. He also suggested
I do some research so I would completely understand this disease. I hope the
material contained in this write-up will help to inform you on some aspects of
There are several causes of chronic bronchitis and the most important is
smoking Environmental pollution can also be a major cause.
Some smokers will not develop bronchitis and it can not be determined which
smokers will contract it. Chronic bronchitis is said to affect over 10% of
the population in the United States. Infections and allergies can
exacerbate an attack of this disease.
There is evidence to show that it doesn't matter what the person's occupation
is or what their lifestyle is like, smokers are always the highest risk group to
develop chronic bronchitis. People who work in a place where the dust
concentrations are at an extremely high level, or at a place that has several
fumes in the air, that may irritate the bronchial tubes, are also at high risk
of developing bronchitis. People who work in coal mines and those who work
in such places like grain elevators, run a high risk of developing this disease.
Those who work at a foundry inhale a large quantity of sulphur dioxide due to
the conditions of their workplace. This causes the symptoms of chronic
bronchitis to become worse as time goes on.
Individuals often neglect chronic bronchitis until it is at a more advanced
state. They mistakenly believe that this disease is not of a
life-threatening nature. By the time the patient finally goes to their
physician, the lungs could have already been seriously damaged. Then, the
patient could face the danger of developing serious respiratory problems or
Chronic bronchitis does not strike quickly. In the winter, the
person may be under the impression that their cold is cured, but, they may
still be coughing and producing mucus in large amounts for weeks after the
cold ends. Smokers, which make up the largest group of those who get
bronchitis, more frequently have a cough that most will try to pass off as
being a smoker's cough. But, as time progresses,
they will suffer more damage to their lungs after each cold. The
production of phlegm increases after each cold.
Without realizing it, patients begin to take the coughing and mucus as a part
of their daily life. Soon, the symptoms are present all the time, before,
during and after colds all year round. Usually, the patient's cough is
worse in the morning and in damp cold weather. Patients may produce over
an ounce of yellow mucous each day. (yuck)
Other illnesses will complicate chronic bronchitis, such as, emphysema and pneumonia.
This form of bronchitis stems from COPD, which along with emphysema, asthma,
and chronic bronchitis are one of the main causes of death
in the United States.
The treatment for this disease is mainly aimed at reducing the irritation in
the bronchial tubes. The use of antibiotic drugs has been helpful in the
treatment of acute infections linked to chronic bronchitis. However, most
patients with this disease do not need to stay on antibiotics for long periods
Bronchodilator drugs are sometimes prescribed to help open up and relax the
air passages in the lungs. If these close up frequently, then the patient
may be instructed to use an aerosol inhaler, such as Albuterol or a nebulizer.
Corticosteroids may also be used to reduce wheezing and breathing problems.
People who suffer from chronic bronchitis need to remove as many sources
that may cause irritation or infection to their sinuses, nasal cavity, and bronchial tubes,
this includes smoking and second-hand smoke.
If the patient works in an environment where they are exposed to dust or
fumes, their physician may suggest changing jobs or at least changing their work
environment. People with chronic bronchitis are encouraged to develop a
plan for a healthy lifestyle that they will follow. Improving the
patient's general health helps to increase the body's resistance to infection.
A good health plan for those with this disease should include the following
rules according to the American Lung Association:
- Avoid exposure to colds and influenza as much as possible, and avoid
irritants such as second hand smoke or any other air
- See your doctor at the first signs of a cold or respiratory infection.
- Follow a well balanced diet and try to maintain your ideal body weight.
- Get regular exercise without tiring yourself too much.
- Don't smoke.
- Ask your doctor if you should get vaccinated against influenza and
Due to having chronic bronchitis and being a smoker, my doctor recommend that
I use the Nicotrol
Inhaler to aid in the cessation of smoking. It helped me immensely.
Sources: Medline Plus.
21 Aug 2004 http://medlineplus.gov/
Margolis, Dr. Simeon. The Johns Hopkins Medical Handbook. : Rebus,