ID: 138
Category: Pulmonary condition
CreatedBy: 1
UpdatedBy: 1
createdon: 06 Feb 2023
updatedon: 05 Apr 2023

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Author: Khoa Tran
Published Feb 06, 2023
Updated Apr 05, 2023

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Chronic Bronchitis

Etymology and Pronunciation

Chronic (KRAH-nik)
chronos - Greek for "time". Used in medicine to describe conditions that is long-lasting.

Bronchitis (brahn-KAI-tis)
bronkhos - Greek for "windpipe" or "throat
-itis - Greek for "inflammation""

History of Chronic Bronchitis

Chronic bronchitis is a respiratory disease characterized by chronic inflammation of the bronchial tubes. It is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and is often caused by smoking or exposure to air pollution.

The history of chronic bronchitis can be traced back to the early 19th century when it was first recognized as a distinct medical condition. In 1808, Charles Badham, an English physician, described a disease that he called "catarrh" which he believed was caused by excessive mucus production in the respiratory tract. In the mid-19th century, other physicians began to use the term "chronic bronchitis" to describe the condition.

In the 20th century, researchers began to explore the underlying causes of chronic bronchitis and to develop effective treatments. In the 1940s, it was discovered that smoking was a major risk factor for the development of chronic bronchitis, and efforts were made to encourage people to quit smoking. In the 1960s and 1970s, researchers identified air pollution as another significant cause of chronic bronchitis, and steps were taken to reduce air pollution levels.

Modern Understanding of Chronic Bronchitis

Chronic bronchitis is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) characterized by persistent inflammation and narrowing of the airways in the lungs. This leads to increased production of mucus, coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. It typically occurs in smokers or individuals who have been exposed to air pollution over a long period of time.

Chronic bronchitis is a form of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which is a group of lung diseases that cause airflow obstruction.

The symptoms of chronic bronchitis can be similar to those of other respiratory conditions, such as asthma or emphysema. The main symptoms are coughing that produces mucus, shortness of breath, wheezing, chest tightness, fatigue, weakness, and rapid breathing. This persistent coughing can cause damage to the bronchial tubes and lead to lung damage over time.

Causes of Chronic Bronchitis

- Smoking: Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of chronic bronchitis. The toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke can irritate the lining of the bronchial tubes and cause inflammation, leading to chronic bronchitis.
- Air pollution: Exposure to air pollution, such as industrial fumes, vehicle exhaust, and dust, can also cause chronic bronchitis.
- Genetic factors: Some people may have a genetic predisposition to developing chronic bronchitis.
- Infections: Repeated respiratory infections, such as colds or flu, can cause damage to the bronchial tubes and lead to chronic bronchitis.
- Occupational exposure: Exposure to irritants and chemicals in certain occupations, such as mining, farming, or manufacturing, can increase the risk of developing chronic bronchitis.
- Age: Chronic bronchitis is more common in older adults, as the lung tissues lose elasticity and the immune system weakens with age.

Treatments for Chronic Bronchitis

- Lifestyle changes: Quitting smoking is the most important lifestyle change for people with chronic bronchitis. Avoiding exposure to environmental irritants, such as air pollution and occupational hazards, can also help to reduce symptoms.
- Bronchodilators: Bronchodilators are medications that help to relax and widen the airways, making it easier to breathe. They can be delivered via inhalers, nebulizers, or pills.
- Inhaled steroids: Inhaled steroids can help to reduce inflammation in the airways and prevent exacerbations of chronic bronchitis. They are often used in combination with bronchodilators.
- Oxygen therapy: Oxygen therapy may be necessary in severe cases of chronic bronchitis to ensure adequate oxygen supply to the body.
- Pulmonary rehabilitation: Pulmonary rehabilitation, which involves exercises and breathing techniques, may be recommended for people with chronic bronchitis to improve lung function and quality of life.
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics may be prescribed for people with chronic bronchitis if there is a bacterial infection present, or if there is a risk of developing a secondary bacterial infection.
- corticosteroids:  They work by reducing inflammation in the airways, which can help to improve breathing and reduce symptoms such as coughing and wheezing. Inhaled corticosteroids are often used as part of a combination therapy with bronchodilators.
- Vaccinations: Vaccinations against influenza and pneumonia can help to prevent respiratory infections that can worsen symptoms of chronic bronchitis.


Shortness of breath
Chest tightness
Chest pain
Increased mucus/phlegm

Confirmation Tests

- Lung (pulmonary) function tests
- CT scan
- X-rays
- Sputum Examination

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