Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes, the airways that carry air to your lungs. It causes a cough that often brings up mucus. It can also cause shortness of breath, wheezing, a low fever, and chest tightness. There are two main types of bronchitis: acute and chronic.
Chronic bronchitis is one type of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). The inflamed bronchial tubes produce a lot of mucus. This leads to coughing and difficulty breathing. Cigarette smoking is the most common cause. Breathing in air pollution, fumes, or dust over a long period of time may also cause it.
To diagnose chronic bronchitis, your doctor will look at your signs and symptoms and listen to your breathing. You may also have other tests.
Chronic bronchitis is a long-term condition that keeps coming back or never goes away completely. If you smoke, it is important to quit. Treatment can help with your symptoms. It often includes medicines to open your airways and help clear away mucus. You may also need oxygen therapy. Pulmonary rehabilitation may help you manage better in daily life.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Diagnosis and Tests
- Blood Oxygen Level (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
- Chest X-Ray (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) Also in Spanish
- Cough (American Academy of Family Physicians) Also in Spanish
- Pulmonary Function Tests (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) Also in Spanish
- Spirometry (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- Pulmonary Rehabilitation: MedlinePlus Health Topic (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
- Humidifiers: Air Moisture Eases Skin, Breathing Symptoms (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
Statistics and Research
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Includes: Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema (National Center for Health Statistics)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Bronchitis, Chronic (National Institutes of Health)