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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home Adult and Senior Health Chronic Bronchitis

Chronic Bronchitis

Chronic bronchitis is a long-term inflammation of the bronchi, which results in increased production of mucus, as well as other changes. It is generally considered one of the two forms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).


Clinical criteria

  • Cough and expectoration must occur most days for at least three months per year, for two years in a row.
  • Other causes of symptoms, such as tuberculosis or other lung diseases, must be excluded.

Clinical signs and symptoms

  • Cough with expectoration
  • Frequent and severe respiratory infections
  • Wheezing
  • Dyspnea- difficulty in breathing
  • Orthopnea- difficulty in breathing in lying down position
  • Narrowing and plugging of breathing tubes
  • Cyanosis- bluish discoloration of skin and lips
  • Swelling of the feet
  • Disability, tiredness, sweating
  • Exhausted (accessory muscles of respiration in action)

Causes of chronic bronchitis

Cigarette smoking is cited as the most common contributor to chronic bronchitis, followed by:

  • bacterial or viral infections
  • environmental pollution

Chronic bronchitis is often associated with other pulmonary diseases such as:

  • pulmonary emphysema
  • pulmonary fibrosis
  • asthma
  • tuberculosis
  • sinusitis
  • upper respiratory infections


  • Heart failure- Cor pulmonale
  • Acute exacerbation of chronic bronchitis
  • Lung collapse or atelcetasis
  • Respiratory failure
  • Pneumonia
  • Cardiac arrhythmia

Tests and diagnosis

  • Pulmonary function tests – spirometry
  • Complete blood test
  • Chest X-ray
  • Arterial blood gas analysis
  • Pulse oximetry
  • CT- chest


Specific treatment for chronic bronchitis will be determined by the physician based on:

  • your age, overall health, and medical history
  • extent of the disease
  • your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • expectations for the course of the disease
  • your opinion or preference

Treatment includes