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Chronic Bronchitis

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the lining of your bronchial tubes, which carry air to and from the lungs. People who have bronchitis often cough up thickened mucus, which can be discolored. Bronchitis may be either acute or chronic.

Chronic bronchitis is a constant irritation or inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, often due to smoking.

Repeated bouts of bronchitis can lead to chronic bronchitis, which requires medical attention. Chronic bronchitis is one of the conditions included in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Factors that increase the risk of bronchitis include:

  • Cigarette smoke
  • Low resistance
  • Exposure to irritants on the job
  • Gastric reflux

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of chronic bronchitis may include:

  • Cough
  • Production of mucus
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Slight fever and chills
  • Chest discomfort

Chronic bronchitis is defined as a productive cough that lasts at least three months, with recurring bouts occurring for at least two consecutive years.


During the first few days of illness, it can be difficult to distinguish the signs and symptoms of bronchitis from those of a common cold. During the physical exam, a Deborah physician will use a stethoscope to listen closely to the lungs.

In some cases, the doctor may order the following tests:

  • Chest X-ray
  • Sputum tests
  • Pulmonary function test