Chronic Bronchitis - Symptoms

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What are the symptoms of chronic bronchitis?

The major symptoms of chronic bronchitis are as follows:

  • Cough and sputum production are the most common symptoms; they usually last for at least 3 months and occur daily. The intensity of coughing and the amount and frequency of sputum production vary from patient to patient. Sputum may be clear, yellowish, greenish, or occasionally, blood-tinged. Since cigarette smoke is the most common cause for chronic bronchitis, it should not be surprising that the most common presentation is so called smoker's cough. This is characterized by a cough that tends to be worse upon arising and is often productive of discolored mucus in the early part of the day. As the day progresses, less mucus is produced.

  • Dyspnea (shortness of breath) gradually increases with the severity of the disease. Usually, people with chronic bronchitis get short of breath with activity and begin coughing; dyspnea at rest usually signals that COPD or emphysema has developed.

  • Wheezing (a coarse whistling sound produced when airways are partially obstructed) often occurs.

In addition, symptoms of fatigue, sore throat, muscle aches, nasal congestion, and headaches can accompany the major symptoms. Severe coughing may cause chest pain; cyanosis (bluish/grayish skin coloration) may develop in people with advanced COPD. Fever may indicate a secondary viral or bacterial lung infection. When symptoms worsen or become more frequent, this is often referred to as an exacerbation of chronic bronchitis. These exacerbations often require antibiotics, and may need steroid medication and an increase in respiratory inhaled medications.

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Comment from: Barb, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: February 20

I have a productive cough mainly at night. It starts with a tickle in the throat which makes me crouch and then I produce quite a lot of clear, non-odorous foamy sputum. I need to suck a sweet to calm it down and then an hour or two later I wake with a need to cough again because of this persistent tickle. Sputum culture negative, allergy blood test negative, spirometer test is 40% down in lung capacity. I started this cough last March 2013, and I have been given inhalers, the latest one Eklira Genuair 322, but it does not help.

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Comment from: Alabama, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: January 27

I started coughing one day and couldn't stop. I would have severe pain in my chest. I stayed very tired because of my chronic bronchitis and passed out while driving. I had blood clots in both lungs and pleurisy.

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