Chronic bronchitis

Select language:
On this page

    A chronic inflammation of the bronchial mucosa due to irritation (tobacco, pollution), allergy (asthma) or infection (repetitive acute bronchitis). It may develop into chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

    Clinical features

    • Productive cough for 3 consecutive months per year for 2 successive years.
    • No dyspnoea at onset. Dyspnoea develops after several years, first on exertion, then becoming persistent.
    • On pulmonary auscultation: bronchial wheeze (always exclude tuberculosis).


    A patient with an acute exacerbation of chronic bronchitis presents with:

    • Onset or increase of dyspnoea.
    • Increased volume of sputum.
    • Purulent sputum.


    • Antibiotic treatment is not useful in treating simple chronic bronchitis.
    • Antibiotic treatment may be useful, for patients in a poor general condition only, for acute exacerbations of chronic bronchitis (see Acute bronchitis).
    • Discourage smoking and other irritating factors.