Of current smokers in the U.S., 2,633,000 have chronic bronchitis from smoking.
Bronchitis is the inflammation of the lining of the airways, or bronchial tubes. When your airways are inflamed and/or infected, less air is able to flow to and from the lungs and you cough up heavy mucus or phlegm. There are two types of bronchitis: acute and chronic. A cute bronchitis can accompany a cold and clears up after a week or two.
A person with chronic bronchitis has a mucus-producing cough most days of the month, three months of a year for two years in a row without other underlying disease to explain the cough. After a long period of irritation:
- Excess mucus is produced constantly
- The lining of the airways becomes thickened
- An irritating cough develops
- Air flow may be hampered
- The lungs become scarred
The airways then make an ideal breeding place for infections.
Source: CDC. Cigarette Smoking Attributable Morbidity – United States, 2000. MMWR 2003; 52(35) 842-844. Table.