Bronchitis can be divided into acute and chronic forms. In the acute form, the trachea and bronchi, or the large airways of the lungs, become inflamed. The infection generally spreads through the bronchi. A deep cough occurs that usually brings up yellowish sputum.
In chronic bronchitis there is chronic inflammation and thickening of the lining of the bronchial tubes. As these airways narrow, there might be difficulty breathing. There is often large amounts of mucus produced, further impairing breathing. Most people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease have a combination of emphysema and bronchitis.
Causes of Bronchitis
Acute bronchitis is most commonly a viral infection. Exposure to airborne irritants can lead to on infectious bronchitis as can a chronic cough. Sometimes, a secondary bacterial infection can affect the mucus membranes that line the bronchi. In this situation, it is often necessary to receive antibiotic therapy.
Smoking is the major cause of chronic bronchitis. Air pollution, dusts and toxic gases can also lead to chronic bronchial irritation. Men are more commonly affected.
Signs and Symptoms of Bronchitis
The symptoms associated with acute bronchitis are tightness of the chest and cough. It is common to have fever, chills, and malaise. Wheezing may occur when you attempt to inhale.
The hallmark of chronic bronchitis is a chronic cough that produces large amounts of sputum. There may be some difficult breathing and shortness of breath. There are symptoms present for at least three months per year for at least two consecutive years.
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Medical Content Last Updated on 07/12/2008
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