What is it? Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a long-term lung disease. It is also called COPD. One type of COPD is chronic bronchitis (bron-ki-tis). Bronchitis is inflammation of the airways or tubes leading to the lungs. This causes the airways to become smaller. The airways fill up with mucus (phlegm). This mucus is coughed out.
Causes: COPD is usually caused by cigarette smoking. Dust or chemical-filled air at work may also cause COPD. Some inherited (family) diseases can cause COPD.
Signs and Symptoms: The main sign is a cough lasting 3 months of a year for 2 years in a row. You may cough all the time or have coughing attacks. Other signs may be trouble breathing, coughing up thick sputum, wheezing, or chest tightness. Your skin and nailbeds may get pale or a bluish color as COPD gets worse. You may get infections easily.
Care: There is no cure for chronic bronchitis. But it can be treated with medicines and breathing treatments. Stop smoking and try to stay away from things that cause you trouble breathing. This may keep your bronchitis from getting worse. It may help if you get shots to keep you from getting pneumonia (new-moan-yuh) and the flu.
You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about COPD and how it can be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care will be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.