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Chronic Bronchitis

Chronic bronchitis is the long-term inflammation of the airways in the lungs known as the bronchi. It is one of the two diseases (along with emphysema) that compose chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). Chronic bronchitis presents as an unrelenting cough and expectoration of mucus and phlegm for most days of at least three months a year in two successive years. However, there are a number of treatments available for chronic bronchitis and drugs which can help to keep this condition in check.

(If you are living with this respiratory disease, we enrolling participants for this COPD clinical trial in Birmingham, AL.)

Symptoms of Chronic Bronchitis

The signs of chronic bronchitis mimic those of other such lung disorders. The following are the most commonly experienced symptoms for chronic bronchitis:

  • Persistent dry cough
  • Persistent wet cough
  • Productive coughing (produces phlegm)
  • Expectoration of mucus and sputum (phlegm)

Other symptoms of the disease include the following:

  • Prolonged exhalation
  • Respiratory infections
  • Heart failure
  • Diminished breathing sounds
  • Clogged bronchi
  • Narrowing of the bronchi
  • Blue lips and skin
  • Edema of the feet
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Wheezing
  • Dyspnea (shortness of breath)
  • Chest pain
  • Malaise
  • Fatigue

Usually, patients with chronic bronchitis do not develop shortness of breath for a number of years after continuous coughing and expectoration. Shortness of breath and other cardiac and pulmonary symptoms do not usually present themselves until the patient has suffered many years of sputum production and coughing.

It is important to consult your physician if you experience any of the above symptoms. It could be that you are seeing signs of a heart attack, chronic bronchitis or another serious medical emergency.

There are several tests that may be performed to test for chronic bronchitis:

  • Pulmonary function tests (PFT) are performed in patients with persistent coughs. These tests measure the lungs’ ability to properly exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide during inhalation and exhalation. PFTs are performed using a spiromtery, a tool to test lung function to measure how well the lungs receive, carry and use air.
  • Peak flow monitoring (PFM) is used to determine the fastest speed at which a person can exhale carbon dioxide out of his lungs. (People with chronic bronchitis, asthma, etc. have narrowed airways and therefore exhale slower).
  • Arterial blood gas (ABG) is measured by a blood test to evaluate how well the lungs are providing oxygen for the blood and removing carbon dioxide. The ABG measures the pH (acidity) level of the blood.
  • C-reactive protein blood count and white blood cell count, measured by a blood test. A blood test would signify any present inflammation if the levels of both the white blood cell count and the C-reactive protein are raised.
  • Pulse oximetry uses an oximeter, a small machine that determines the amount of oxygen present in the bloodstream.
  • Chest x-ray uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to reveal hyperinflation and strength of the lungs. X-rays produce images of internal bones, organs and tissue.
  • Computed tomography scans (CT) use a combination of x-ray imaging and computers and produce cross-sectional spliced images of the internal bones, muscles, tissue, fat and organs. A CT scan would reveal more precise information about the presence, bodily impact and severity of chronic bronchitis.
  • High Resolution Computed Tomography (HRCT) is a high resolution CT scan used to detect chronic bronchitis.
  • A sample of sputum would reveal the presence of neutrophil granulocytes (inflammatory white blood cells). When the airways of the lungs are irritated, they become inflamed and damaged, causing the presence of neutrophil granulocytes. Moreover, neutrophil granulocytes produce mucosal hypersecretion, a common sign of chronic bronchitis.

Treatment for chronic bronchitis includes the following methods:

  • Antibiotics
  • Bronchodilators
  • Oxygen supplementation
  • Lung transplant
  • Lung reduction surgery (removes area of damaged lung)

Inhaling smoke from cigarettes most commonly causes chronic bronchitis. Pulmonary diseases, bacterial infections, allergies, upper respiratory infections, viral infections, asthma, tuberculosis, sinusitis and the inhalation of asbestos and chemical fumes can also cause chronic bronchitis. Smoking cessation as well as clinical treatment are both ways to keep chronic bronchitis in check.

If you have been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder and live near Birmingham, Alabama, you may want to check out Achieve’s Paid COPD Clinical Trials currently enrolling.

Participants Wanted for Our COPD Clinical Trial