Chronic bronchitis rampant among smokers

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.


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