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Chronic Bronchitis

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Updated March 17, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Chronic Bronchitis Illustration © A.D.A.M.

Definition:
Primarily a smoker's disease, chronic bronchitis is a form of COPD characterized by recurrent inflammation of the main airways (bronchial tubes) of the lungs due to long-term exposure to an inhaled irritant, usually cigarette smoke.

Chronic bronchitis causes mucus glands to produce too much sputum, resulting in a thickening of the walls of the air passages and leading to a chronic cough and breathing difficulties.

A chronic cough, and associated breathing problems, that lasts a minimum of three months of the year for two consecutive years typically results in the diagnosis of chronic bronchitis.

See also:
COPD Information
Do I Have COPD?

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