Bronchitis

6% of seniors are living with this debilitating chronic condition

Bronchitis is a condition in which the tubes that carry air to your lungs become inflamed. Bronchitis is often associated with a cough that brings up mucus.

There are two types of bronchitis: acute bronchitis, which is short term, and chronic bronchitis, which is ongoing.

Viruses like the common cold or flu can lead to acute bronchitis. It can last anywhere from a couple of days to 10 days but the cough can last for several weeks.

Chronic bronchitis is a serious condition and occurs when the tubes that carry air to your lungs are constantly inflamed. It is a long-term medical condition.

Smoking is a major cause of chronic bronchitis and it is suggested that you stop smoking once you develop bronchitis because it can help you live better with this condition. Other contributing factors can be exposure to airborne irritants, air pollution and family history.

The National Institutes of Health reports that senior citizens have a higher risk of developing bronchitis than young adults. An estimated 6% of all seniors live with this condition.

Chronic bronchitis falls into the category of chronic lower respiratory diseases, which also includes emphysema and asthma. Collectively, CLRDs are the fourth leading cause of death among the elderly (after heart disease, cancer and stroke).

Chronic bronchitis is also one form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a debilitating and persistent cough that is accompanied by shortness of breath. Treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms through inhalers, steroids or the use of personal oxygen devices.

Like the flu there are vaccines that may help prevent bronchitis. Having the flu shot will reduce the risk of contracting a respiratory illness that can lead to bronchitis.

For senior citizens, bronchitis in any form is worrisome, since it can trigger or exacerbate other medical conditions and can lead to pneumonia. Quitting smoking and engaging in moderate exercise are the two most effective preventative approaches to avoiding bronchitis.

You can learn more about bronchitis and COPD by visiting the website of the National Institutes of Health, or by contacting the American Lung Association.