Bronchitis is inflammation of the breathing tubes. These are the airways called
bronchi. This inflammation causes too much mucus production and other changes. There are
different types of bronchitis. But the most common are acute and chronic.
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:
People with chronic bronchitis have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This
is a large group of lung diseases that includes chronic bronchitis. These diseases can
block air flow in the lungs and cause breathing problems. The 2 most common conditions
of COPD are chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
Chronic bronchitis is not caused by a virus or bacteria. Most experts agree that the
main cause of chronic bronchitis is cigarette smoking. Air pollution and your work
environment may also play a role. This is especially true if you also smoke.
Bronchitis symptoms often happen with other lung diseases, such as:
Below are the most common symptoms of chronic bronchitis. But each person may have slightly different symptoms.
Symptoms may include:
People with chronic bronchitis often have a cough and make mucus for many years before
they have shortness of breath.
Chronic bronchitis may cause:
Other symptoms may include:
symptoms of chronic bronchitis may look like other lung conditions or health problems.
See your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
healthcare provider will take a complete health history and do a physical exam. He or
she may order the following tests:
These tests help to measure the lungs’ ability to move air in and out of your lungs.
The tests are often done with special machines that you breathe into. They may
Spirometry. This test uses a spirometer device to see how well your lungs
are working. It is one of the simplest, most common pulmonary function tests. It may
be used for any or all of these reasons:
flow monitor. This test measures the fastest speed you can blow air out of
your lungs. Inflammation and mucus in the large airways in the lungs narrow the
airways. This slows the speed of air leaving the lungs. It can be measured with a
peak flow monitor. This measurement is very important in telling how well your
disease is being controlled.
This blood test is used to check the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your blood. It also measures the acidity of your blood.
An oximeter is a small machine that measures the amount of oxygen in your blood. To get this measurement, a small sensor is taped or clipped onto a finger or toe. When the machine is on, a small red light can be seen in the sensor. The sensor is painless, and the red light does not get hot.
This test makes pictures of your internal tissues, bones, and organs, including the lungs.
This imaging test uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to make
images of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body,
including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than
Treatment for chronic bronchitis is aimed at treating the causes and symptoms. It may
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
The University of Chicago Medicine
5841 S. Maryland Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637 | 773-702-1000
Appointments: Call UCM Connect at 1-888-824-0200