- Understanding COPD Slideshow
- COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) Quiz
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- Bronchitis FAQs
- Patient Comments: Chronic Bronchitis - Treatments
- Patient Comments: Bronchitis - Experience
- Patient Comments: Chronic Bronchitis - Symptoms
- Patient Comments: Acute Bronchitis - Symptoms
- Find a local Pulmonologist in your town
- Bronchitis facts
- What is bronchitis?
- What is acute bronchitis?
- What are the symptoms of acute bronchitis?
- What is chronic bronchitis?
- What are the causes of chronic bronchitis?
- What are the risk factors for chronic bronchitis?
- What are the symptoms of chronic bronchitis?
- When should an individual seek medical care for chronic bronchitis?
- How is chronic bronchitis diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for chronic bronchitis?
- What are the complications of chronic bronchitis?
- Can chronic bronchitis be prevented?
- What is the outlook (prognosis) for chronic bronchitis?
Quick GuideBronchitis Pictures Slideshow
When should an individual seek medical care for chronic bronchitis?
Ideally, a person should seek medical care before chronic bronchitis develops. It is reasonable for people to seek care for tobacco addiction and the occasional chronic cough (occurring less than daily for 3 months) and to get medical help to potentially avoid developing chronic bronchitis. However, any daily cough that lasts for at least 3 months in a person should be investigated by a physician.
If a person develops chronic (3 months or longer) cough, difficulty breathing, sputum production, and other symptoms, it may represent the first bout of chronic bronchitis. Thus, seeking medical care may help slow or prevent the usual progression of the disease.
If a person with diagnosed chronic bronchitis (or COPD or emphysema) develops severe problems with breathing, cyanosis or fever, they should seek medical care immediately.
How is chronic bronchitis diagnosed?
Health care professionals diagnose chronic bronchitis based on a person's medical history, physical exam, and diagnostic tests. A history of a daily productive (sputum production) cough that lasts at least 3 months, especially if has occurred two years in a row, fits the criteria for a clinical diagnosis of chronic bronchitis. The physical examination often allows health care professionals to hear wheezes and a prolongation of the exhalation of breathing, which are signs of airflow obstruction.
A chest X-ray is often performed to help rule out other lung problems (for example, pneumonia, bronchial obstructions). Additional tests such as a complete blood count (CBC), arterial blood gas measurements, CT scan of the chest, and pulmonary function tests are often done to characterize the structure and function of the lungs and to help exclude other conditions (for example, lung cancer, tuberculosis, lung infections). Often a pulmonologist (a physician with specialized training in the management of lung diseases) can help diagnose and treat chronic bronchitis.