Chronic bronchitis is a long-term disease of the lungs. It is a problem with the airways of the lungs. Injury or irritation causes these airways to swell and develop extra mucus. This makes it difficult to move air in and out of the lungs. It will make breathing difficult.
Cigarette smoking is the greatest risk factor for developing chronic bronchitis. The more you smoke and the longer you smoke, the greater your chance of developing chronic bronchitis. Frequent and long-term smoking also increases the chance of severe chronic bronchitis.
Chronic bronchitis is more common in people over 40 years old. Other factors that may increase your risk of chronic bronchitis include:
Long-term exposure to chemicals, dust, and other substances that have been inhaled
To diagnose chronic bronchitis, symptoms of productive cough must have been present for 3 or more months in at least 2 consecutive years, and not have been caused by another condition. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include the following:
Oxygen therapy may be helpful if the oxygen levels in your blood are too low. It can relieve trouble breathing and improve energy. You may only need it for specific activities or it may be given throughout the day.
Special exercises can strengthen chest muscles. This can make it easier to breathe.
Regular physical activity can reduce the workload on your lungs by building your endurance. Physical activity is also associated with improved quality of life.
Follow your doctor's recommendations for activity levels and restrictions.
Special methods of breathing can help bring more air into the lungs. It can also help force trapped air out of the lungs. Effective coughing techniques can also help clear mucus from your lungs. Ask your doctor if these techniques can help you. Some examples include: