Chronic inflammation of the airways is the underlying cause of this disease and can come from smoking, pneumoconiosis, or infections.
Chronic bronchitis patients suffer from early-onset hypoxemia and can appear cyanotic due to a lack of oxygen saturation.
There are traditionally two forms of COPD: chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Patients with chronic bronchitis are referred to as "blue bloaters," whereas patients with emphysema are given the nickname "pink puffers."
The diagnostic criteria for chronic bronchitis is a productive cough, or cough with sputum, for greater than 3 months per year for 2 or more years. This state is due to an increased number (hyperplasia) of goblet cells and increased size (hypertrophy) of mucus glands.
Airway narrowing can lead to wheezing, often heard in patients with chronic bronchitis.
Chronic bronchitis is a form of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Emphysema and Asthma are the other forms of COPD.
Chronic bronchitis patients have late-onset dyspnea, or shortness of breath. It is commonly noticed first during exercise or high lung demand and tends to worsen over time.
Crackles, or rales, are popping sounds made by air being forced through respiratory passages restricted by mucus, fluid, or pus. They are associated with atelectasis and inflammation of the airways.
The Reid index measures the thickness of the gland divided by the total thickness of the bronchial wall. Hypertrophy and hyperplasia of the glands in chronic bronchitis result in a Reid index of greater than 50%.
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