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Bronchitis

What Causes Bronchitis?

Last updated on:
20/03/2012

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

Smoking is the leading cause of chronic bronchitis. The substances in cigarette and other forms of tobacco smoking cause irritation of the bronchial tubes.

While smoking is the leading cause of bronchitis, environmental pollution and some kinds of occupational exposures to chemicals have also been shown to lead to chronic bronchitis. Of course, if you smoke and work or live in a polluted environment, the chances of getting chronic bronchitis are much greater.

In addition, there are some early studies showing that those exposed to high enough levels of second-hand smoke may be more likely to get chronic bronchitis. There also are people with no known risk factors who still get the disease.

Nice To Know:

Some cases of asthma are mistaken for chronic bronchitis because cough is the most prominent symptom. Also, since emphysema and lung cancer are also primarily caused by smoking, that symptoms of chronic bronchitis may indicate that the lung has been irritated by cigarette smoke and that further damage may lead to more serious problems.

Nice To Know:

Higher rates of chronic bronchitis are found among coal miners, grain handlers, metal molders, and other workers exposed to dust. Chronic bronchitis symptoms worsen when levels of sulfur dioxide and other air pollutants increase. These symptoms are worse when individuals also smoke.

 
 

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From Andrew Maynard - Chair of the University of Michigan Department of Environmental Health Sciences, with help from David Faulkner - 2013 Master of Public Health graduate.