Chronic Bronchitis is one of the most common lung diseases currently identified. The most noticeable symptom is that the condition makes it difficult for the patient to breathe. Other symptoms include: cough (with mucus), fatigue, wheezing, recurring respiratory infections, dyspnea (shortness of breath). Dyspnea symptoms will often increase in severity with even mild activity.
The symptoms develop slowly in most cases. Due to the slow onset of symptoms…many patients will be sick for a period of time before they realize there is a problem.
There are many treatments for chronic bronchitis. While none of the treatments are meant to cure the condition…they can alleviate symptoms. (There is currently no cure for chronic bronchitis).
The most vital “action” to be taken when a patient is diagnosed with chronic bronchitis is to stop smoking. It is the most effective way to slow down lung damage. Some patients will experience positive results through the use of proper medications.
Some medications that are used for treatment of chronic bronchitis include:
1. Inhalers to open the airways (bronchodilators)
2. Inhaled steroids (to reduce lung inflammation)
3. Oral or intravenous steroids (in severe cases or during a flare up)
4. Antibiotics (to avoid infection during flare ups because infections will increase the severity of the condition)
Some patients may benefit from oxygen therapy. Oxygen therapy can be administered at home. It is effective in cases of patients with low levels of oxygen in their blood. This type of pulmonary rehabilitation is not a cure for the condition, but it enables the patient to learn to breathe so they can enjoy a more active lifestyle. In some cases patients can benefit from exercise programs to increase/maintain muscle strength in the legs. This decreases the demand on the lungs when a patient is walking.
Patients should make it as easy as possible to live with their condition. They should avoid extremely cold air. Avoid second hand smoke (and never allow anyone to smoke in their car or home). Avoid all forms of smoke such as fireplace smoke and grills and similar irritants. Eat a healthy diet focusing on lean proteins, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
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