Bronchitis

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Overview

Inflammation of the lining of the bronch of the lung is known as bronchitis. Bronch are pathways within the lung that carry air. Acute bronchitis, commonly called the chest cold, is characterized by coughing and can usually last up to a few weeks. Chronic bronchitis is very common in smokers and can cause serious lung dysfunction in the long run.

Causes

Viruses that cause the common cold and flu can also cause acute bronchitis. Smoking, along with air pollution, dust, and toxic gases can cause chronic bronchitis. Certain conditions that increase the risk to this disease include:

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of this disease are:

  • Productive cough with copious sputum
  • Fatigue or lethargy
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest discomfort
  • Fever
  • Chills

Chronic bronchitis is usually more severe, and lasts at least 3 months with recurrent bouts for about two consecutive years.

Diagnosis

This disease is often hard to distinguish from a common cold or flu. It can be diagnosed after a careful physical exam and respiratory examination. Chest X-rays, sputum analysis and pulmonary function tests (PFTs) can also be used.

Treatment

Majority cases of this disease get better on their own, especially if viral. Medications such as cough suppressants may be used for chronic cases, it is important to maintain adequate lung function and breathing exercises referred to as pulmonary rehabilitation may be utilized.

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