With the first cold you start to talk about the evils of the season, chief among them is bronchitis, an inflammation of the airways caused by viruses that most often enter our body through the nose and mouth, which then sneak up to the bronchi.

We speak in this case of acute bronchitis that is annoying, however usually resolves quickly and leaves no damage. Well the situation is different when these typical infections of the winter season occur in people who are already suffer from chronic respiratory diseases.

Particularly at risk, as explained by Dr. Lamberto Maggi, head of Department of Pneumology of Humanitas Gavazzeni, are patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) which in common parlance we call “chronic bronchitis complaints”: in these situations you experience an exacerbation of all symptoms of the illness, with coughing, your sputum (phlegm) and above all a severe worsening of breathing, already compromised by the underlying disease.

The vaccine against chronic bronchitis

Chronic bronchitis is thus a pathology that should be kept particularly in check, even with vaccines such as the: “Annual flu vaccination which is highly recommended in COPD patients – commented Dr. Maggi – in selected situations it may also be advised to associate pneumococcal vaccines (recurring every 5 to 10 years), which is a vaccine against one of many specific types of germs, but the most frequent which causes lung infections.”

Influenza vaccination is therefore one of the preventive methods to avoid the typical incurring exacerbations of chronic bronchitis. “But obviously we must not be neglected of all other interventions – says the expert – a healthy lifestyle with absolute cessation, cigarette smoking is the main cause of chronic bronchitis, and patients should not expose themselves to industrial pollution or waste gas, as well as maintain regularly the basic therapy of the disease that is usually done with inhaled bronchodilators.

What is chronic bronchitis, and what should be done to diagnose and cure it?

“COPD is a chronic lung disease characterized by airway obstruction, which is irreversible and progressive, if not properly taken care of. The main characteristics are represented by persistent coughs and sputum, to which we associate wheezing, i.e. shortness of breath, initially only during exercise but with the worsening of the disease, it may occurs even at rest.

The disease has a chronic course, with symptoms persisting over time and with phases of acute worsening, defined as “exacerbation”. Requiring a rapid consultation from your doctor if present.”

What are the symptoms of chronic bronchitis and what are tests to recognize it?

“If you have a persistent cough with sputum for more months of the year and for several consecutive years, if you start to experience difficulty breathing, especially if you are smoking, then you are suspected of having chronic bronchitis. In this case we will have to do a spirometry, i.e. an exam that measures the volumes of your lungs and the presence of an obstruction of your Airways. Your doctor may also make you perform complementary exams, like an x-ray of the lungs or a CT scan, but this is decide case by case“.
The first therapeutic measure of acute bronchitis, is the interruption of the tobacco smoke: without this measure, no therapeutic intervention can halt the progression of the disease. “It is very important to diagnose it and treat it early on – concludes the pulmonologist – because the damage that it causes are irreversible and progressive: If the diagnosis is delayed and if all the therapeutic measures are not implemented, and maintained, COPD gets worse inevitably, often evolving in chronic respiratory failure, which may be in a state of severe respiratory distress which may require continuous oxygen administration, 24 hours a day for life”.

Bronchitis related articles:

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  • Common cold: that’s why it worsens in the winter
  • Pollution: health at risk?