Chronic bronchitis is inflammation of the bronchial tubes that generally lasts for 3 months or occurs several times in 2 years. Chronic bronchitis is a type of lung disease that is included in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Chronic bronchitis is a type of bronchitis that occurs due to exposure to chemicals or cigarette smoke. Unlike acute bronchitis, which is usually caused by a viral infection and resolves within 1-2 weeks, chronic bronchitis is a more serious condition and develops over time.
Symptoms of chronic bronchitis may improve or worsen. It should be noted that improving chronic bronchitis does not always indicate the patient's condition has fully improved.
Causes of Chronic Bronchitis
The main cause of chronic bronchitis is long-term exposure to cigarette smoke. Inhaled cigarette smoke makes the respiratory tract irritated and filled with mucus. If mucus in the respiratory tract accumulates, sufferers can have difficulty breathing, especially during activities.
Apart from exposure to cigarette smoke, several other conditions that put a person at greater risk of developing chronic bronchitis are:
- Have a family with a history of lung disease
- Often exposed to dust or smoke from burning chemicals
- Living in an environment with poor air quality
- Suffering from a genetic disease in the form of alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency
Symptoms of Chronic Bronchitis
Chronic bronchitis is characterized by a cough that appears almost every day for at least 3 months in 1 year and for 2 consecutive years. Coughing is also not caused by tuberculosis or other lung diseases.
Other common symptoms of chronic bronchitis include:
- Cough accompanied by yellow, green, or white mucus
- Noisy breathing or wheezing
- Chest pain
- Easily tired
- Hard to breathe
- Nasal congestion
- Bluish nails, lips, or skin
When to see a doctor
Immediately consult a doctor if you experience symptoms of chronic bronchitis as mentioned above. It is also necessary to see a doctor if you have a cough that lasts more than 3 weeks and is accompanied by the following conditions:
- Fever more than 3 days
- Coughing blood
- Symptoms of lung disease or asthma
- The breath becomes shorter
- Symptoms of bronchitis often recur
- Chest pain
- Dizziness or feeling like you might pass out
Diagnosis of Chronic Bronchitis
The doctor will conduct questions and answers about the symptoms, as well as the patient's and family's medical history, then proceed with a physical examination. After that, the doctor will carry out further examinations, such as:
- Blood gas analysis , to measure oxygen, carbon dioxide, and pH levels in the blood
- Chest X-ray, to detect signs of infection or fluid around the lungs
- Pulmonary function test , to measure the ability of the lungs to breathe
- Spirometry test, to measure lung function in expelling air
Chronic Bronchitis Treatment
Chronic bronchitis treatment aims to relieve symptoms and prevent complications. Some methods that can be done by doctors are:
- Bronchodilators , which are available in inhaled form, to relieve breathing and reduce coughing
- Steroids, to reduce inflammation in the respiratory tract
- Antibiotics , such as cefditoren or doxycycline, to treat secondary infections that may result from chronic bronchitis
Chronic bronchitis patients with severe symptoms can be given oxygen in the hospital or at home. Patients are also advised to undergo flu vaccines and pneumonia vaccines . If needed, the doctor can carry out medical procedures to treat the buildup of fluid in the patient's lungs.
Patients can also do breathing exercises to maximize oxygen absorption . The trick is to take a deep breath and exhale slowly through your mouth.
Complications of Chronic Bronchitis
Chronic bronchitis can cause a number of complications, including:
- Coughing blood
- Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
- Breathing failure
- Right sided heart failure
- Polycythemia vera
- Lung cancer
Chronic Bronchitis Prevention
Chronic bronchitis can be prevented by avoiding various factors that can trigger irritation of the bronchial tubes. Efforts that can be made include:
- Stop smoking
- Wash your hands regularly to prevent the spread of infection
- Avoid exposure to chemicals, air pollution, and cigarette smoke
- Avoid using insect spray or hair spray
- Do not make close contact with people who have the flu or cough
- Wear a mask when you are sick or caring for sick people