Although identified as separate entities, most patients with COPD have features of both. Chronic bronchitis symptoms that are distinct to the condition include: Since symptoms start gradually, you could have emphysema for years and never know it. Emphysema. And while that sounds distinct enough, both can cause difficulty breathing, and the two conditions usually coexist. There is one significant difference between chronic bronchitis and emphysema – chronic bronchitis is reversible, while emphysema is not. Because emphysema represents a more severe form of COPD and is associated with greater lung damage, morbidity and mortality are higher for emphysema than for chronic bronchitis. How much do you know about long-term, or chronic, lung conditions? But there are ways that you can lower your chances of developing chronic bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis is a long-term respiratory condition that affects the lungs. • Both will present with difficulty in breathing. When inflamed or irritated, bronchial tubes increase mucus production and cause other respiratory discomforts, all of which can block air flow to the lungs and cause breathing problems. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And, in response to the pandemic, our teams are taking extra care to protect patients by wearing PPE gear and following strict disinfection protocols. Below is more information about the types of COPD. Other distinct symptoms to look out for in addition to shortness of breath when exerting yourself include: Chronic bronchitis inflames the bronchi and has fluctuating symptoms: excessive mucus production, cough, fever. Bronchitis means the airways are inflamed and narrowed. Updated July 19, 2019. While chronic bronchitis is a result of damage and obstruction in the bronchial tubes, emphysema occurs as a result of damage in the lungs. Because the mucus (also referred to as phlegm or sputum) is so abundant and thick, it's often difficult for a person with chronic bronchitis to expel it. And the main symptom—, —can be written off as a number of common conditions. Decreased oxygen can also lead to swelling in the legs and ankle (peripheral edema).. This and chronic (or long-term) bronchitis are the two main components of COPD. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a broad term used to describe different lung conditions, but most often involves chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Emphysema is the opposite of chronic bronchitis. But you may be able to lower your odds of chronic bronchitis. Emphysema Definition Emphysema is a chronic respiratory disease where there is over-inflation of the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs, causing a decrease in lung function, and often, breathlessness. It is unclear whether different types of COPD exist. ... cough, wheezing, dyspnea & chest tightness. DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies. When a COPD flare-up strikes, DispatchHealth can help you breathe easier. While you can safely assume that both conditions affect the respiratory system, causing shortness of breath, spotting the differences between the two is trickier. Get our printable guide for your next doctor's appointment to help you ask the right questions. Lifestyle changes are also central to treatment. This cough is not usually as “wet” as that from chronic bronchitis, however. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other distinct symptoms to look out for in addition to shortness of breath when exerting yourself include: Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are two of the most common lung diseases that fall under COPD. Findings on a chest x-ray or computed tomography (CT) of the chest may also help in diagnosis of emphysema and sometimes chronic bronchitis. Even if you take all the above steps to manage your symptoms, you’re going to have bad days. Eventually, the destruction will reduce oxygen intake and lung elasticity—making it harder to breathe, especially when exerting yourself. These symptoms are present for a prolonged period of time and typically worsen over time. Healthy lungs are made up of … These lung diseases largely include emphysema and chronic bronchitis. The body responds to this mucus by producing a cough in an attempt to clear the airways.. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are two of the most common lung diseases that fall under COPD. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: Definition, Clinical Manifestations, Diagnosis, and Staging. However, the causes, symptoms, and treatment of the two conditions are almost completely identical. Requesting care for your acute COPD symptoms is as easy as getting in touch via phone, mobile app, or website. Our in-home service has helped many benefit from prompt healthcare for their acute needs, allowing them to skip a trip to the ER and enjoy personalized treatment in a familiar setting. Deborah Leader RN, PHN, is a registered nurse and medical writer who focuses on COPD. The most common symptoms of COPD are shortness of breath, and a cough that produces sputum. Non-smokers can also develop emphysema if regularly exposed to secondhand smoke. DispatchHealth can test for COVID-19 as well as provide in-home support and treatment for people with COVID-19 symptoms. People with COPD are at increased risk of developing heart disease, lung cancer and a variety of other con… The lung damage from emphysema takes two forms, both of which are common in most patients: Air sac walls lose their natural elasticity and flexibility. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: Definition, Clinical Manifestations, Diagnosis, and Staging. Although COPD has no cure, there are now advancements in the form of cellular therapy that may help. People with emphysema have damaged lungs from long-term exposure to irritants. As both conditions affect the lungs, both chronic bronchitis and emphysema are marked by similar symptoms of shortness of breath and wheezing, but there are some differences, particularly in the late stages of the diseases. Kaminsky DA. Emphysema is a lung condition where the air sacs -- or alveoli -- … Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. And, in response to the pandemic, our teams are taking extra care to protect patients by wearing PPE gear and following strict disinfection protocols. Venn diagram of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The main difference is that chronic bronchitis involves the destruction of cilia (tiny hairs in the airways of the lungs) rather than the alveoli. 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