Bronchitis is a condition in which the airways in the lungs become inflamed. In some cases, this occurs acutely, either from illness or allergies. However in other cases, bronchitis can last for periods of over three months or, keep coming back time and time again. This is referred to as chronic bronchitis, which can lead to obstructive chronic bronchitis in time as well as chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder.
Chronic bronchitis is most commonly caused by smoking cigarettes and as such, it is no wonder that chronic bronchitis symptoms are very similar to those of emphysema. The two smoking related conditions in fact share many signs. Emphysema symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing are also associated with chronic bronchitis. Additionally, aside from sharing emphysema symptoms, chronic bronchitis is also related to the condition as they share the distinction along with asthma of making up the group of conditions that answer the question what is COPD, one of the leading causes of death in the United States.
Some chronic bronchitis symptoms may not initially appear to be related to the condition. Headaches, for instance, which are common with the malady, can be attributed to a wide variety of ailments. Additionally, swelling in the feet and ankles may not be initially seemingly related to the respiratory condition. Bronchitis symptoms can also include fatigue and, even when excessive, this symptom alone may not indicate the presence of the condition, nor its severity. Shortness of breath can be alarming, however when it only occurs with exercise or exertion, it may be one of the bronchitis symptoms that is more easily written off. However, there are some chronic bronchitis symptoms that are worth paying attention to, and their manifestation may indicate a worsening case of the condition.
A mucus producing cough is one of the hallmarks of bronchitis. In cases of the chronic form of the condition, hemoptysis may occur regularly. Hemoptysis refers to the spitting or coughing up of blood or, producing mucus that is streaked with blood. Sometimes, coughing up brown mucus may actually be related to this phenomenon, where the color lacks the bright red hue, although is still related to bleeding or blood in the phlegm. Unfortunately for sufferers of chronic bronchitis, coughing up blood or having blood streaked or blood tinged mucus is considered relatively normal.
Although the underlying causes of the two conditions are very different, there are some similarities in bronchitis vs pneumonia, particularly with regards chronic bronchitis symptoms. The production of mucus, coughing and wheezing occur in both conditions. Additionally, smoking greatly impacts both (as well as emphysema). Consistent smoking of cigarettes reduces the ability of the lungs to fight of both viral and bacterial infections, which may increase the likelihood of developing conditions like pneumonia in addition to being the main cause of chronic bronchitis.
While it is important to pay attention to all of the symptoms of chronic bronchitis and quit smoking immediately if the condition is present, there are actually some chronic bronchitis symptoms that can signal a worsening or exacerbation of the condition. Extreme fatigue with very minimal physical activity is one of these symptoms, and it is a result of a decreased lack of oxygen throughout the body. Additionally, this decrease in oxygen may also lead to the lips and the skin developing a bluish hue. Abdominal swelling may also occur in advanced stages of the disease, a further indicator that the condition is progressing. Many times, a viral sickness on top of chronic bronchitis can lead to a worsening of symptoms in general.
There is no cure for chronic cases of bronchitis, and treatment revolves mostly around eliminating the causes (like smoking) as well as providing individual treatment for the symptoms of chronic bronchitis. Because earlier cases of the condition are much easier to treat and are treated much more successfully, it is incredibly important to pay attention to the symptoms of the condition and stop smoking and seek care for the symptoms as soon as possible. It is much more difficult to treat the disease in its advanced states, which is what makes paying attention to signs of exacerbation like coughing up blood and swelling even more critical. Quitting smoking however, is important in any stage of chronic bronchitis and when done early, can dramatically reduce the chance of the disease reaching more advanced states.