Frequently Asked Questions: Bronchitis

Here are some frequently asked questions related to bronchitis.

Q: What other diseases resemble chronic bronchitis?

A: There usually are no symptoms of lung cancer until the disease is well established. Frequent bouts of pneumonia or lung infection in a seemingly healthy adult that does not clear up normally may be the first sign of lung cancer. Also, bronchiectasis is an irreversible lung disease in which the airways in the lung are always dilated. This condition is usually preceded by serious, frequent respiratory infections, often starting in childhood.

Q: Is there a genetic component to this disease that I can pass down to my kids?

A: Gene-linked deficiencies in a specific protein have been linked to emphysema, which often exists along with chronic bronchitis. However, studies have yet to link a lack of the protein to chronic bronchitis. Research into this is continuing.

Q: I don’t smoke. Can I still get chronic bronchitis?

A: Yes. While smoking is the leading cause for this disease, environmental pollution and some kinds of occupational exposures to chemicals have also been shown to lead to chronic bronchitis. In addition, there are some early studies showing that those exposed to high enough levels of second-hand smoke may be more likely to get chronic bronchitis. Finally, there is a set of people with no know risk factors who still get the disease.

Q: What is chronic asthmatic bronchitis?

A: Chronic asthmatic bronchitis is the condition in which the airways in the lungs are obstructed due to both persistent asthma and chronic bronchitis. People with this disease generally also have a persistent cough that brings up phlegm. Chronic asthmatic bronchitis, which also may involve emphysema, is usually classified under the more general category of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Q: What is the Better Breathers Program?

A: It is a program for those with chronic respiratory diseases like bronchitis, emphysema, or asthma. Sponsored by the American Lung Association, BBP combines education with social opportunities designed to create a better understanding of chronic respiratory disease and how to live with it. The program features education through films, literature, and demonstrations, as well as lectures by doctors and other health care professionals specializing in lung disease. You can find out about these programs by contacting your local chapter of the American Lung Association (see their listing in the your local telephone book) or by going to the ALA’s Web site.

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