Chronic bronchitis can be a disabling condition and is included in the “Listing of Impairments” in the Social Security Administration (SSA) disability program. Along with emphysema, this condition is the main reason for a diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
At Keefe Disability Law, we specialize in helping people who have COPD and other disabling conditions to apply for and receive SSA disability benefits. Our Boston Social Security disability lawyer and team have helped many people throughout New England
If you have been diagnosed with chronic bronchitis, you may have some questions about it. Here is some general information to help you.
What is Chronic Bronchitis?
Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes and their smaller branches. The results of this inflammation are excess mucus secretion and a possible narrowing or closing of the bronchial tubes.
To be diagnosed with chronic bronchitis, a patient must have a cough that produces sputum every day for at least three months. And this must occur for two consecutive years. Other diagnosis tools include taking a clinical history, a physical exam, chest x-rays, CT scans and pulmonary function tests.
While this disease is progressive and can become very serious, if the diagnosis is made early enough, patients can experience many years of active, healthy living.
What Causes Chronic Bronchitis?
Generally, if you suffer from acute bronchitis, a similar condition that lasts about two weeks and doesn’t cause permanent damage to the bronchial tubes, you may be vulnerable to chronic bronchitis. Researchers have found that recurring cases of acute bronchitis often lead to the chronic type.
In addition, there are some known causes that involve lifestyle and environment. These include:
- Number one is smoking. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 49% of smokers develop chronic bronchitis and 24% develop emphysema. And the dangers extend to those who are exposed to second hand smoke.
- Other inhaled substances can also cause chronic bronchitis. These include smog and other airborne pollutants, cleaning solvents, and many more environmental hazards.
- When a person suffers from acute bronchitis caused by viral and bacterial infections over and over again, chronic bronchitis can develop.
- Other diseases like asthma, cystic fibrosis and immunodeficiency can also contribute to the likelihood that chronic bronchitis will occur, but these causes are very rare.
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