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.

Quick GuideBronchitis Symptoms and Treatments

Bronchitis Symptoms and Treatments

What are the complications of chronic bronchitis?

The major complications of chronic bronchitis are:

  • dyspnea, sometimes severe,
  • respiratory failure,
  • pneumonia,
  • cor pulmonale (enlargement and weakness of right heart ventricle due to lung disease),
  • pneumothorax (collection of air or gas in lung causing lung collapse),
  • polycythemia (abnormally high concentration of red blood cells needed to carry oxygen),
  • COPD (some NIH investigators consider chronic bronchitis a type of COPD),
  • emphysema,
  • chronic advancement of the disease, and
  • high mortality (death) rate (COPD is the 4th leading cause of death in the United States).

Can chronic bronchitis be prevented?

The majority of instances of chronic bronchitis can be prevented by not smoking and avoiding second-hand smoke. Flu and pneumococcal vaccines can help prevent repeated infections that may lead to the disease.

Certain industries (for example, chemical, textile, and farm workers) are often associated with air-borne chemicals and dust; avoiding air-borne chemicals and dust with appropriate masks may prevent or reduce the individual's chance of developing chronic bronchitis.

Good control of asthma may prevent chronic bronchitis from developing. The genetic predisposition to chronic bronchitis is not currently preventable.

What is the prognosis for chronic bronchitis?

Although the disease is chronic and progressive, affected individuals that are diagnosed early before much bronchial damage occurs stop smoking (or avoid airborne dust, chemicals, or other situations that lead to bronchial irritation), they often have a good prognosis for many years.

Approximately half of smokers with chronic bronchitis will stop coughing after 1 month of smoking cessation. Most patients will no longer cough with continued abstinence from smoking. If airflow obstruction has occurred, this can improve but the improvement level depends on the duration of injury and the compliance with therapy. Obviously, the more impaired patients will have a lesser recovery of lung function.

Conversely, those individuals that have continued bronchial irritation have only a fair to poor prognosis, since repeated bouts with the disease usually get worse, with affected individuals having more frequent incidents of coughing and dyspnea over time and further progression of lung function abnormalities.

REFERENCES:

Fayyaz, J., MD. "Bronchitis." Medscape. Updated: Jun 03, 2016.
<http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/297108-overview >

Gotfried M, Grossman R. Short-course fluroquinolones in acute exacerbations of chronic bronchitis. Expert Rev Respir Med, 4(5):661-672, 2010

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/11/2016

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