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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
- Bronchitis (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) Available in Spanish
- Chronic Bronchitis (American Academy of Family Physicians) Available in Spanish
- Chronic Bronchitis (National Jewish Health)
- Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work - Bronchitis (Chest Cold) (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Available in Spanish
Diagnosis and Tests
- Blood Gases Test (American Association for Clinical Chemistry)
- Cough (American Academy of Family Physicians) Available in Spanish
- Spirometry (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- What Are Lung Function Tests? (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
- What Is a Chest X Ray? (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
- Living Well with COPD: Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema (American College of Chest Physicians) - PDF
- Living with Chronic Bronchitis (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) Available in Spanish
- MedlinePlus: Pulmonary Rehabilitation (National Library of Medicine) Available in Spanish
- Humidifiers: Air Moisture Eases Skin, Breathing Symptoms (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
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)
Journal ArticlesReferences and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Bronchitis and Pneumonia (California Childcare Health Program) - PDF