Health Information
Chronic Bronchitis

Definition
Chronic bronchitis is caused by inflammation and swelling of the bronchial tubes. The swollen and inflamed tubes secrete too much phlegm which further irritates and blocks the airways. The most common cause of chronic bronchitis is cigarette smoking. The inhaled smoke contains numerous irritants to the lung.

Chronic bronchitis is not inherited and is not contagious to others.

Symptoms
Patients with chronic bronchitis always cough up phlegm on most days, usually in the morning. The amount of phlegm coughed up per day varies but is about one to three teaspoons. The phlegm is clear or white unless a chest infection is present. The other common symptom of chronic bronchitis is shortness of breath with exercise.

Treatment
Chronic bronchitis, like emphysema, is not curable but with treatment the symptoms can often be improved. Proper treatment also decreases the chance of being hospitalized.

The following may be effective for patients with chronic bronchitis.

COMMON QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Q. How much exercise is safe?

We recommend regular walks, or any exercise you enjoy.  Stop for a rest period when you feel short of breath.

Q. When should I call a physician?

Call at the first sign of any chest infection (fever, discolored phlegm) or any sudden increase in shortness of breath.

Q. Would is help to quit smoking?

Yes, it is well proven that the rate of decline in lung function decreases with quitting.

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