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Chronic Bronchitis

Affecting millions of Americans each year, chronic bronchitis is a common type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in which the air passages in the lungs — the bronchi — are repeatedly inflamed, leading to scarring of the bronchi walls. As a result, excessive amounts of sticky mucus are produced and fill the bronchial tubes, which become thickened, impeding normal airflow through the lungs.

Cigarette smoking is the number one risk factor for developing chronic bronchitis. Over 90 percent of patients with chronic bronchitis have a smoking history, although only 15 percent of all cigarette smokers are ultimately diagnosed with some type of COPD, such as chronic bronchitis.

Our Approach to Chronic Bronchitis

UCSF offers comprehensive evaluations and care for all types of COPD. When treating chronic bronchitis, we aim to ease symptoms, slow progression of the disease and prevent complications.

Treatment options include medications, supplemental oxygen and, for some patients, surgery to remove small portions of damaged lung. UCSF also offers pulmonary rehabilitation, a multifaceted program that provides nutrition and exercise counseling, help in quitting smoking and education on how to stay as healthy as possible.

In addition to caring for patients, we lead research to improve the understanding and treatment of COPD. Interested patients may have the option to receive experimental treatments by participating in a clinical trial.

Awards & recognition

  • usnews-neurology

    Among the top hospitals in the nation

  • usnews-pulmonology

    Best in Northern California for pulmonology & lung surgery

  • Rated high-performing hospital for COPD

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.