Chronic bronchitis is one of the most dangerous diseases in existence. It is a form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, in which the lungs produce an excess of mucus, causing the victim to cough hoarsely and to have difficulty breathing.
The form referred to as acute exacerbation of chronic bronchitis (abbreviated to AECB) is specifically the episodes when breathing difficulty manifests itself the most. It affects 30 million Americans annually; this number includes millions of cases of the disease that have not been diagnosed as such. It has also been known for some time; a description of one case occurs in the London Medical Record of May 7, 1873.
Causes of the disease
Chronic bronchitis is in almost all cases linked with tobacco smoking, and so the disease can be avoided by not taking on this habit. AECB, however, can be caused by other allergens or toxins, including wood, pollen, or air pollutants, or by various forms of bacteria— among them Streptococcus pneumoniæ and Hæmophilus influenzæ— or viruses, such as rhinovirus and the one that also causes influenza.
How AECB is treated
The treatments for AECB are about as varied as its causes. The mucus may be thinned by the use of drugs called mucokinetics, which moisten it (Mucinex is a proprietary drug in this category). Antibiotics may also be used if the cause is bacterial, but not if it is a viral form of the disease. A drug called theophylline can be taken by mouth to make breathing easier. Sometimes doctors apply oxygen therapy, in which the gas is delivered to the system through a pipe.
How to avoid contracting AECB
Despite the variety of causes, one can lessen the chances of contracting AECB by exercising regularly; eating a healthy diet; protection against the inhalation of dangerous chemicals; drinking plenty of fluids; and keeping a safe distance from those who are suffering from certain illnesses, such as pneumonia or the common cold.
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