Bronchitis is anINFLAMMATION of the membrane that linesthe air passages, or, bronchial tubes, of theLUNGS and results in the narrowing of these airpassages. This disorder may be of either an acuteor chronic type. Irritation of mucus-producingglands within the membrane results in theproduction of excess bronchial secretions.
Themain symptoms of bronchitis are cough andincreased expectoration of sputum, with or withoutassociated wheezing and shortness of breath.Acute bronchitis is usually caused by infection byone of the many viruses that cause the commonCOLD or INFLUENZA and is frequentlyassociated with MEASLES. The patient maysuffer from additional symptoms, such as chestdiscomfort, fever, and aching, that arecharacteristic of these diseases.
WHOOPINGCOUGH is a form of severe bronchitis caused bythe bacterium Hemophilus pertussis. Treatment ofa pure viral infection is directed toward the reliefof symptoms, but frequently secondary infectionsby bacteria complicate the condition. In such acase the patient’s sputum may turn from white toyellow (purulent, or pus containing), and treatmentwith various antibiotics is recommended. Acutechemical bronchitis may be caused by theinhalation of irritating fumes, such as smoke,chlorine, ammonia, and ozone. Chronic bronchitisresults from prolonged irritation of the bronchialmembrane, causing cough and the excessivesecretion of mucus for extended periods. By farthe most common cause of chronic bronchitis iscigarette SMOKING, but air pollution andindustrial fume and dust inhalation are alsoimportant irritants. Patients with chronic bronchitisare subject to recurrent infections with H.influenzae and pneumococci.
PulmonaryEMPHYSEMA often coexists, and over a longperiod of time the patient may suffer fromincreasing breathlessness, decreasing exercisetolerance, and, finally, total disability. In the mostsevere forms of the disease, the patient may havea blue, bloated appearance, and a fatal heartdisease, known as COR PULMONALE.HOWARD BUECHNER, M.D. Bibliography:Burrows, B.
, Respiratory Disorders (1983);Fletcher, C., et al., The Natural History ofChronic Bronchitis and Emphysema (1976);Pennington, J. E., ed., Respiratory Infections(1983).Category: Science