Both current and former smokers who suffer from bronchitis have a greater risk of death than non-smokers, but more study is needed to determine whether early intervention can help, according to a new data analysis.
“Nonobstructive chronic bronchitis in smokers may reflect a different type of chronic lung disease than chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or may precede COPD diagnosis,” write Dr. Spyridon Fortis and others in the new analysis.
Chronic bronchitis is long-term inflammation of the bronchi, which is common among smokers. People with chronic bronchitis tend to get lung infections more easily. They also have episodes of acute bronchitis when symptoms are worse.
People with chronic bronchitis have COPD, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. The terms are often used synonymously.
“Further research should investigate whether nonobstructive chronic bronchitis may benefit from early therapeutic intervention,” write Fortis and his co-authors.
Bronchoscopy is one intervention used in the treatment of severe COPD.
“Bronchoscopic interventions to treat severe COPD have made great progress over the last decade offering benefit to patients with few treatment options available,” write Dr. Robert F. Browning and others in the Journal of Thoracic Disease.
COPD On the Rise
The World Health Organization (WHO) identifies COPD as the third-leading cause of death worldwide, with 80 percent of those cases occurring in low- and middle-income countries.
COPD also shows up as the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. where more than 16.4 million people have been diagnosed with COPD, according to the American Lung Association.
As baby boomers age, the numbers of people suffering from COPD is on the rise. Those increasing numbers are expanding the roles of respiratory therapists who treat those patients to include work as COPD navigators. They help patients who have become caught up in a cycle of trips to the hospital and back home.