Chronic bronchitis

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.