Skip to main content

Chronic Bronchitis

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 6, 2024.

What is chronic bronchitis?

Chronic bronchitis is a long-term swelling and irritation of the airways in your lungs. The irritation may damage your lungs. The lung damage often gets worse over time, and is usually permanent. Chronic bronchitis is part of a group of lung diseases called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The Lungs

What causes or increases my risk for chronic bronchitis?

A family history of lung disease can increase your risk. The following may cause lung damage that can increase your risk:

What are the signs and symptoms of chronic bronchitis?

What is an exacerbation of chronic bronchitis?

An exacerbation is when your symptoms get much worse very quickly. Exacerbations of chronic bronchitis can be triggered by infections such as a cold or the flu. Lung irritants such as air pollution, dust, fumes, or smoke can also trigger an exacerbation. Exacerbations of chronic bronchitis can be life-threatening.

How is chronic bronchitis diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your signs and symptoms. Tell your provider about other medical conditions you have. Your provider will examine you and listen to your heart and lungs. You may also need any of the following:

How is chronic bronchitis treated?

Treatment options

The following list of medications are related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

What can I do to manage chronic bronchitis?

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I call my doctor?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© Copyright Merative 2024 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.