Chronic Bronchitis

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: George Schiffman, MD, FCCP
    George Schiffman, MD, FCCP

    George Schiffman, MD, FCCP

    Dr. Schiffman received his B.S. degree with High Honors in biology from Hobart College in 1976. He then moved to Chicago where he studied biochemistry at the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle. He attended Rush Medical College where he received his M.D. degree in 1982 and was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. He completed his Internal Medicine internship and residency at the University of California, Irvine.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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Bronchitis Pictures Slideshow

What is bronchitis?

Bronchitis is a term that describes inflammation of the bronchial tubes (bronchi and the smaller branches termed bronchioles) that results in excessive secretions of mucus into the tubes, leading to tissue swelling that can narrow or close off bronchial tubes. Bronchial tubes extend from the trachea and terminate at the alveoli in the lungs; the bronchial system resembles an inverted tree and is sometimes termed the "bronchial tree." A few authors include the trachea and upper airway in the definition. There are two major types of bronchitis, acute and chronic. Many investigators conclude that recurrent incidences of acute bronchitis are the first steps that can lead to developing chronic bronchitis.

What is acute bronchitis?

Acute bronchitis is bronchitis that is short-lived; the bronchitis lasts about two weeks and usually people recover with no permanent damage to the bronchial tree. Viruses such as influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and rhinoviruses cause the majority of cases of acute bronchitis, while the remainder are caused by bacteria (for example, Mycoplasma, Pneumococcus) or short-term exposure to chemical irritants (for example, tobacco smoke,gastric reflux contents, inhaled solvents).

What are the symptoms of acute bronchitis?

Symptoms of acute bronchitis may include:

Some people may cough up phlegm. Chronic bronchitis differs from acute bronchitis in several ways described below (for example, pathology, progression of disease, major causes, treatments, and outcomes).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/24/2016

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