Chronic Bronchitis (cont.)

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What are the complications of chronic bronchitis?

The major complications of chronic bronchitis are as follows:

  • 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.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/23/2015

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