The body clears harmful things in your lungs by coughing, but if you cough way too much, you might have chronic bronchitis. It is a more serious type of bronchitis that occurs when the lining of your bronchial tubes is inflamed and irritated. Chronic bronchitis is a dangerous condition, but it will not suddenly happen to you. It’s characterized by bronchitis that goes on for a long time and does not go away. If you have coughed for at least three months over the course of 2 years, you might have it, and you need to call your doctor right away. Most people who have the disease are around 44 to 65 years old.

When the lining of your bronchial tubes experiences a constant inflammation, an excessive amount of sticky mucus will build up in your airways. That sticky mucus will limit the amount of airflow that goes in and out of your lungs. The blockage of the airflow will result in coughing and difficulty breathing. The inflammation may also damage the cilia, which are the hairs that help keep the airways clear of germs. If the cilia do not work properly, the airways become a breeding ground for bacterial infections.

Many people who have chronic bronchitis usually develop emphysema. Both are lung diseases, and together they are called COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Many people do not realize that they have chronic bronchitis, or they refuse to see a doctor. However, chronic bronchitis is one of the leading causes of death, so it is important to know what the symptoms are and what causes it.

As stated above, the disease fills your airway with thick mucus. The mucus can be yellow, green, or white. It will eventually build up and restrict airflow. The small hairs (cilia) that move phlegm out of your lungs are damaged, which makes you cough. As the disease develops, it’s going to be a lot harder for you to breathe. Some of the most common symptoms are shortness of breath, wheezing, and of course, coughing that gets worse during any type of physical activity. There are other symptoms of chronic bronchitis, including chest discomfort, sinus congestion, bad breath, fatigue, fever, and chills. Your skin and lips may become bluish in the later stages of chronic bronchitis. This happens because of a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream. The reduced levels of oxygen in the blood may also result in swelling in your legs and ankles (peripheral edema). 

The number one cause of chronic bronchitis is cigarette smoking. In fact, more than 90% of people who suffer from the disease smoke or used to smoke. The cilia are temporarily paralyzed when you inhale cigarette smoke. Therefore, smoking frequently for a long period can damage the cilia, and chronic bronchitis may develop due to the damage. Even when you don’t smoke, secondhand smoke may also contribute to the development of chronic bronchitis. Other possible causes are dust, air pollution, engine exhaust, coal, fire smoke, certain fumes like hairspray or paint, and dust. 

Many people dismiss the symptoms because they believe that it’s just a smoker’s cough. But it is advisable to make an appointment with your doctor right away if you sense that something is wrong and you might have bronchitis. The later you receive treatment, the greater your risk of severe lung damage.