Saturday, January 14, 2006

bronchitis, chronic

Chronic bronchitis is characterized by the presence of a productive cough resulting from an excessive production of mucus. The mucosal surface of the tracheobronchial tree is lined by cilia. Their function is, specifically, to propel excess secretions to the trachea where a cough will remove the material. Air pollutants decrease ciliary activity, with retention of secretions. These secretions form plugs within the bronchi where infection readily ensues. Diagnosis is made by evaluating the patient's symptoms, performing a careful history, physical examination, X-ray of the chest, fluoroscopy, and pulmonary function tests. A sputum culture may be obtained. Keeping a record of the volume expectorated per day may be helpful in assessing the disease.
Treatment of chronic bronchitis requires long-term planning. It is usually palliative in nature, directed at preventing infections and relieving symptoms. Maintaining optimal health and preventing respiratory infections are important in maintaining the patient's resistance. A diet containing adequate protein, vitamins, and other nutrients is important. Maintaining an increased humidity in the home assists in the liquification of secretions and prevention of mucus plugs. Sufficient rest and avoiding emotional stress is helpful with the overall disease.
Rogers, S. C., and McCue, J. D. Managing Chronic Disease. Oradell, N.J.: Medical Economics Co., 1987.
Scherer, J. C. lntroductory Medical-Surgical Nursing. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co., 1982.

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