Chronic bronchitis is a chronic (long term) lung condition which leads to the production of mucus in the lungs, coughing, and difficulty breathing. It is a form of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). During the early stages, symptoms of chronic bronchitis may be ignored. As time passes, the amount of phlegm gradually increases and coughing continues to increase in frequency as well. Other symptoms of chronic bronchitis may include sinus congestion, wheezing, shortness of breath, postnasal drip, bad breath, bluish tint to the skin, swelling in the legs and ankles, and bad taste in the mouth. A sudden worsening of chronic bronchitis is called an exacerbation. Symptoms of an exacerbation include coughing up more mucus or mucus that is a different color than usual, as well as increased shortness of breath.
To rule out other causes of illness such as pertussis, asthma, or emphysema, a physician may conduct various tests including a chest x-ray, sputum tests, and a pulmonary function test. Risk of developing chronic bronchitis is increased if there has been long-term exposure to airborne irritants including tobacco smoke, marijuana smoke, air pollution, and manufacturing fumes as well as having gastric reflux and a lowered immune resistance. Treatment for chronic bronchitis may include medication or therapy. See a doctor if you have had unexplained shortness of breath for several months to talk about the most current treatment options. Support groups are also a good source of information and support.