Chronic Bronchitis (cont.)

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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 (about 90%) 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 11/26/2013

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