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Understanding Respiratory Tract Infections (RTIs)
section: Common Adult RTIs: Acute Exacerbations of Chronic Bronchitis (AECB)
page: 3 / 8

Common Adult RTIs: Acute Exacerbations of Chronic Bronchitis (AECB)

What is Bronchitis?
Bronchitis is an inflammation of the lining of the major breathing tubes (called bronchial tubes or bronchi) that connect the windpipe (called the trachea) to the lungs.1

Signs and Symptoms
Chronic bronchitis is defined as a condition in which the patient has symptoms including cough, excessive phlegm (or mucus) production, and/or shortness of breath for three months of the year for at least two consecutive years.2 Chronic bronchitis is often neglected by sufferers who mistakenly believe exacerbations, or flare-ups are remnants of a winter cold. A smoker with such flare-ups may dismiss them as "smokerís cough." 3

What is an Acute Bacterial Exacerbation of Chronic Bronchitis?
During chronic bronchitis, the continuously inflamed state of the bronchial tubes interferes with breathing and causes coughing spells. Acute bacterial exacerbations of chronic bronchitis occur when bacterial infections develop in the bronchial tubes. Glands of the bronchial tubes may produce excessive amounts of phlegm. This excess phlegm leads to congestion making it difficult for the lungs to clear harmful bacteria. These conditions are then favorable for the bacteria to multiply and cause flare-ups.4 Signs of bacterial infection include change in the color, amount or thickness of coughed-up phlegm, increased coughing, increased breathlessness, chest tightness and fatigue.5

To effectively control bacterial flare-ups of chronic bronchitis, it may be necessary to eliminate sources of infection in the nose, throat, mouth, sinuses and bronchial tubes.6 Antibiotic therapy may shorten the duration of an exacerbation and reduce risk of complications.7 Your doctor will most likely tailor an antibiotic regimen specifically for you.

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