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Asthma Vs Chronic Bronchitis

Written by Courteney

Posted on January 26, 2017 at 4:29 pm

We took a look at acute bronchitis in our last post. Next up is chronic bronchitis, which is characterized by a mucus-producing cough and related symptoms that last longer than 3 months. In cases of chronic bronchitis, inflammation of the respiratory tract is persistent and never resolves itself completely. Over 80% of cases are caused by smoking or long-term second hand exposure to smoke. In other cases, long-term exposure to chemical irritants or heavy pollution may cause chronic bronchitis (which is a subtype of COPD).

What are the symptoms of bronchitis?

  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath or tightness in chest
  • A dry or productive cough
  • Excess mucus production
  • Feeling of general malaise
  • Mild chills or fever
  • Headache
  • Fatigue

Is it Bronchitis or Asthma?

If you seem to continually get bouts of acute bronchitis, there may be more at the heart of the matter. Often people who are diagnosed with bronchitis several times a year actually have asthma (or a COPD-related condition). There are different types of asthma such as exercise induced, allergic-asthma and seasonal asthma, all of which produce symptoms that can mimic bronchitis. Because asthma also causes excess mucus and swelling (of the muscles surrounding the bronchial tract), flare-ups can be easily mistaken for acute bronchitis.

Asthmatic Bronchitis

Alternately, it is very possible to experience both conditions simultaneously. Asthmatics are prone to a special type or bronchitis called asthmatic bronchitis. This happens when the lining of the airways is swollen (bronchitis), along with the muscles surrounding the airways (asthma). This double respiratory whammy can be very serious and is often treated with steroids. Asthmatic bronchitis is typically not contagious (unless it was initially caused by a virus).

What is the Difference Between Chronic Bronchitis and Asthma?

While both chronic bronchitis and asthma are chronic conditions of the respiratory system that involve swelling, chest tightness, coughing and shortness of breath, they do have some marked differences as well:

  1. Asthmatics typically experience more symptoms in the night times such as wheezing and chest tightness, while COPD sufferers have a characteristic morning cough that produces sputum.
  2. Asthmatics commonly have related allergies and sensitivities that sometimes act as triggers for asthma attacks, whereas chronic bronchitis is most often associated with long-term exposure to harmful chemicals.
  3. While doctors may prescribe some similar puffers to help control both conditions, treatment can be quite different.
  4. The most notable difference between the two conditions is the prognosis. Generally speaking, asthma is more controllable and does less damage than COPD-related conditions like chronic bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis is more of a progressive disease that can leave destruction of the lungs in its wake. When a person has an asthma attack, the structures of the lungs return to normal with treatment. However, the lungs of a person with COPD may keep deteriorating slowly.

Both conditions require long-term maintenance and follow-up to ensure the treatment plan in place is still effective. Our DocChat physicians are standing by 24/7/365 to provide any assistance you may need. Thanks for visiting!




Tags: asthmaCOPDhealthlung conditiontreatment

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