What Does it Mean to Have Chronic Bronchitis?
Before we look into the causes of chronic bronchitis in adults, let’s first define this respiratory condition.
Chronic bronchitis is one of the two main forms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) alongside emphysema.
Essentially, COPDs like chronic bronchitis have two characteristics:
- They make it difficult for the patient to breathe; and
- They can become worse over time.
In chronic bronchitis, the patient’s difficulty of breathing comes from the long-term inflammation of the bronchi, the tubes that carry the air to the lungs.
With inflamed bronchi, the air cannot travel as efficiently as it should, causing symptoms like shortness of breath and chest discomfort.
A person most probably has chronic bronchitis when they exhibit coughing with mucus most days for at least 3 months, with bouts recurring within at least 2 years.
But of course, other causes of productive coughing, like tuberculosis, must be ruled out before the doctor finally makes their diagnosis.
Chronic Bronchitis Causes
Now that you have a better idea of what happens during chronic bronchitis, let’s talk about its causes.
Like what we mentioned earlier, this form of COPD happens due to the long-term inflammation of the bronchi. But, what causes the inflammation?
According to reports, the most common cause of inflammation is prolonged and regular exposure to lung irritants. During this long-term exposure:
- The patient inhales the irritants.
- The irritants come in contact with bronchi and produce an inflammatory reaction.
- Since the exposure is prolonged and regular, the inflammatory response continues to happen, resulting in excessive production of mucus.
- The excessive mucus often results in productive cough, sometimes also called “smoker’s cough”.
- Over time, this inflammatory reaction can also lead to bronchial narrowing or stiffening.
When it comes to chronic bronchitis causes, you must be wondering: what “lung irritants” can trigger the inflammation?