Chronic bronchitis is a very common respiratory illness. Around 12 million people in the United States are diagnosed with chronic bronchitis each year. Chronic bronchitis is considered to be the most common illness among the chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. Chronic bronchitis has a high incidence in smokers and people with respiratory conditions like asthma or sinusitis are also very exposed to developing chronic bronchitis in time. In some cases, patients with complicated acute bronchitis can develop chronic bronchitis too.
Bronchitis causes inflammation and sometimes viral or bacterial infection of the mucous membrane, bronchial tubes and other organs and tissues involved in the process of breathing. The respiratory system has many natural defenses (nostril hairs, cilia, mucus) against external irritants (airborne viruses, dust particles, chemicals, pollen). However, constant exposure to these external agents can sometimes enable airborne viruses to penetrate the natural barriers of the respiratory tract, causing inflammation and infection. When external irritants reach inside the lungs, there is a high risk of complication (pneumonia). When the bronchial tubes become inflamed and irritated, they produce a surplus of mucus which clogs the airways and prevents the normal airflow.
Chronic bronchitis is a persistent respiratory illness and it also has a recidivating character. The symptoms of chronic bronchitis are usually not intense, but they reoccur on a regular time basis. While acute bronchitis usually clears on itself within a few days, chronic bronchitis can last for months. Chronic bronchitis is an infectious disease and needs ongoing medical treatment with antibiotics. If the medical treatment is prematurely interrupted, the illness reoccurs and can lead to complications.
Chronic bronchitis is very common in smokers and people with weak immune system. Inappropriate diet, lack of sleep, stress and exposure to chemicals and pollutants all contribute to the development of chronic bronchitis. Smoking facilitates the development of chronic bronchitis by sustaining the proliferation of bacteria and by slowing the normal process of healing. Smoking can cause serious, permanent damage to the respiratory system.
People with chronic bronchitis need long-term medical treatment in order to completely overcome the illness. Antibiotics are the most common form of medicines prescribed in the treatment for chronic bronchitis and despite their efficiency in fighting malign bacteria responsible for causing chronic bronchitis, they also destroy internal benign bacteria that are part of the immune system. Such medical treatments with antibiotics can weaken the organism in time, making it more vulnerable to other infections. Chronic bronchitis medical treatments also include medicines for decongesting the airways clogged with mucus. Bronchodilators such as albuterol and ipratropium are inhaled medicines that eliminate excess mucus that causes obstruction of the respiratory tract and difficulty breathing. Chronic bronchitis treatments can also include steroids in order to strengthen the body defenses against bacteria and viruses.