Chronic bronchitis | Symptoms of chronic bronchitis | Bronchitis treatment

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Bronchitis is characterized by inflammation of the bronchial tubes (bronchi), the air passages that extend from the trachea into the small airways and alveoli. It is one of the top conditions for which patients seek medical care.
Chronic bronchitis | Symptoms of chronic bronchitis | Bronchitis treatment 2015
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Signs and symptoms
A complete history must be obtained, including information on exposure to toxic substances and smoking. Symptoms of bronchitis include the following:
Chronic bronchitis | Symptoms of chronic bronchitis | Bronchitis treatment 2015
Cough (the most commonly observed symptom)
Sputum production (clear, yellow, green, or even blood-tinged)
Fever (relatively unusual; in conjunction with cough, suggestive of influenza or pneumonia)
Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea (rare)
General malaise and chest pain (in severe cases)
Chronic bronchitis | Symptoms of chronic bronchitis | Bronchitis treatment 2015
Dyspnea and cyanosis (only seen with underlying chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD] or another condition that impairs lung function)
Sore throat
Runny or stuffy nose
Headache
Muscle aches
Chronic bronchitis | Symptoms of chronic bronchitis | Bronchitis treatment 2015
Extreme fatigue
Physical examination findings in acute bronchitis are variable and may include the following:
Chronic bronchitis | Symptoms of chronic bronchitis | Bronchitis treatment 2015
Diffuse wheezes, high-pitched continuous sounds, and the use of accessory muscles (in severe cases)
Diffuse diminution of air intake or inspiratory stridor (indicative of bronchial or tracheal obstruction)
Sustained heave along the left sternal border (indicative of right ventricular hypertrophy secondary to chronic bronchitis)
Clubbing on the digits and peripheral cyanosis (indicative of cystic fibrosis)
Chronic bronchitis | Symptoms of chronic bronchitis | Bronchitis treatment 2015
Bullous myringitis (suggestive of mycoplasmal pneumonia)
Conjunctivitis, adenopathy, and rhinorrhea (suggestive of adenoviral infection)
See Presentation for more detail.
Chronic bronchitis | Symptoms of chronic bronchitis | Bronchitis treatment 2015
Diagnosis
Bronchitis may be suspected in patients with an acute respiratory infection with cough; yet, because many more serious diseases of the lower respiratory tract cause cough, bronchitis must be considered a diagnosis of exclusion.
Chronic bronchitis | Symptoms of chronic bronchitis | Bronchitis treatment 2015
Studies that may be helpful include the following:
Chronic bronchitis | Symptoms of chronic bronchitis | Bronchitis treatment 2015
Complete blood count (CBC) with differential
Procalcitonin levels (to distinguish bacterial from nonbacterial infections)
Sputum cytology (if the cough is persistent)
Blood culture (if bacterial superinfection is suspected)
Chest radiography (if the patient is elderly or physical findings suggest pneumonia)
Chronic bronchitis | Symptoms of chronic bronchitis | Bronchitis treatment 2015
Bronchoscopy (to exclude foreign body aspiration, tuberculosis, tumors, and other chronic diseases)
Influenza tests
Spirometry
Laryngoscopy (to exclude epiglottitis)
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