The most common symptoms of chronic bronchitis are persistent cough accompanied by yellow, green or blood-specked sputum, extreme tiredness, shortness of breath and low-grade fever, according to Mayo Clinic. Other symptoms of chronic bronchitis include headaches, muscle pain, sinus congestion and a sore throat, reports MedicineNet.com.
Chronic bronchitis is often confused with acute bronchitis, which can lead to potentially fatal delays in treatment, notes Healthline. While acute bronchitis is typified by the same symptoms that accompany chronic bronchitis, including a discolored, mucus-producing cough, fatigue and respiratory difficulty, these symptoms typically last no more than a few weeks. Often, the condition resolves itself without medical intervention. The symptoms of chronic bronchitis, on the other hand, can last for up to three months, with episodes recurring periodically over the course of several years. Unlike acute bronchitis, chronic bronchitis is a progressive condition and can lead to complications including chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, pneumonia, emphysema, gas buildup in the lungs, known as pneumothorax, and heart disease, reports MedicineNet.com.
The biggest risk factor for developing chronic bronchitis is smoking, according to Mayo Clinic. Other risk factors include long-term exposure to chemical pollutants, gastric reflux resulting in persistent heartburn and immune system disorders leading to low disease resistance.