Chronic bronchitis is a clinical term used to designate a particular pattern of persistent muco-productive cough. Chronic bronchitis is not a specific disease entity. Underlying diseases or conditions vary and are often obscure. Criteria for a diagnosis of chronic bronchitis are presence of a productive cough producing greater than 25 cc per day of sputum for at least three months during each of two consecutive years.
In patients with severe chronic bronchitis, excess secretions become thick and sticky as a result of recurrent infections, making mucus clearance difficult. In addition, it can cause inflammation and infection, damaging the mucus clearing capabilities in the lungs that help move mucus from lower to central airways, resulting in an ever-worsening secretion clearance challenge and ultimately, bronchiectasis.
Left untreated, consequences include:
- Airway obstruction
- Dyspnea or shortness of breath
- Bronchial spasms
- Recurrent infections
- Declining lung function
- Impaired quality of life
- Escalating healthcare costs
- Premature death
Effective removal of excess lung mucus, combined with antibiotics and other drugs, can significantly slow disease progression.