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Chronic bronchitis

Written by Healthwords's team of doctors and pharmacists based in UK | Updated: 27.02.2023 | 2 min read

Chronic bronchitis is where you have long-term symptoms of bronchitis and is defined as a daily productive cough that lasts for three months of the year, for at least two years in a row.

Bronchitis is an infection or inflammation of the bronchi, which are the largest airways of the lungs. These airways have a protective mechanism built into them where they produce mucus, which traps anything that is not welcome in the airways and could be harmful to the lungs. It can then be coughed up and removed from the body.

When someone has bronchitis, something has irritated the airways, causing increased production of mucus. This leads to the body trying to get rid of the mucus and causes a productive cough.

Next steps

Chronic bronchitis is one of two conditions alongside emphysema that make up chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). These are long-term lung conditions that require lifelong management and treatment.

Chronic bronchitis is not contagious, except if a viral or bacterial infection has caused a flare-up.

Caidr pharmacists' top tips

If you have been diagnosed with chronic bronchitis or your symptoms are similar, you should not try self-treatment. Your first step should be seeing your doctor, as your mainstay of treatment should be prescription medications.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any worrying symptoms, such as shortness of breath, chest pain, fever, or feeling severely unwell, then you should seek urgent medical advice.

If you think you may have chronic bronchitis, you should book a routine appointment with your doctor. Next-step investigations may include lung function tests, further imaging of your lungs, and further information about your symptoms.

Am I fit for work?

Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may be fit for work.

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