DESCRIPTIONChronic bronchitis is a recurring inflammation and degeneration of the bronchial tubes, with or without active infection. This is not contagious or cancerous. The bronchial tubes (bronchi) are involved. Chronic bronchitis can affect both sexes, all ages, but is most common in boys.
Appropriate health care includes:
Self-care after diagnosis.
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications. Many lung and heart disorders cause symptoms identical to those of chronic bronchitis. Your doctor must exclude these possibilities to make a diagnosis.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSFrequent cough or coughing spasms.
Shortness of breath.
Sputum that is thick and difficult to cough up. Sputum production varies according to whether infection is present.
Barrel chest (in the late stages).
Repeated irritation or infection in the bronchial tubes, causing them to thicken, narrow, and lose elasticity. Underlying irritants include allergens, air pollution, and tobacco smoke.
Smoking (the greatest risk factor); any lung illness that has lowered resistance; family history of tuberculosis or other disease of the respiratory tract; exposure to air pollutants; poor nutrition; obesity; crowded living conditions.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCEInstructions for your child or adolescent: Don't smoke. (This is the most reversible risk.) Avoid irritating fumes in the environment. Obtain prompt medical treatment for respiratory infections.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Laboratory studies of sputum and pulmonary function.
X-rays of the chest.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD is incurable. It is characterized by purple lips and nails and congestive heart failure.
Chronic bronchitis is usually curable with treatment -- if the patient is a non-smoker and doesn't have an underlying chronic disease, such as congestive heart failure, bronchiectasis, or tuberculosis. Chronic bronchitis usually reduces life expectancy if a person smokes and doesn't stop, or if there is an underlying chronic disease.
HOME CAREInstructions for a chronic bronchitis patient:
If you go to school or work or live in an area with heavy air pollution, do everything you can to avoid or reduce it. Consider changing schools and jobs and installing air-conditioning with a filter and humidity control in your home.
Avoid sudden temperature changes or exposure to cold, wet weather.
Avoid talking loudly, laughing loudly, crying and exertion, if these trigger coughing episodes.
Practice bronchial drainage and deep-breathing techniques. Your physician will provide instructions.
MEDICATIONDon't give your child cough suppressants; they make chronic bronchitis worse.
Your doctor may prescribe:
-- Antibiotics to fight chronic or recurrent infection.
-- Expectorants to loosen secretions.
-- Bronchodilators to open bronchial tubes.
No restrictions. Your child should remain as active as possible.
DIET & FLUIDS
No special diet. Increase the child's fluid intake to 8 to 10 glasses a day.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?
Yes, except during episodes of acute bronchitis with fever. In such cases, OK to return when signs of infection have decreased,
appetite returns, and alertness, strength, and feeling of well-being will allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has symptoms of chronic bronchitis.
Your child develops a fever of 101F (38.3C).
Blood appears in the sputum.
Chest pain increases.
Shortness of breath occurs even when the child is resting or not coughing.
Sputum thickens despite efforts to thin it.