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Difference Between Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a chronic inflammatory lung disease, causing obstructed airflow from the lungs. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are the two conditions that contribute to COPD.

 

What is Chronic Bronchitis?

Chronic bronchitis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the bronchi. It is characterized by prolonged cough and mucus formation in the respiratory tract.

Bronchitis is considered chronic if the symptoms occur most days of the month, three months a year for two consecutive years, and in the absence of secondary causes of a cough.

Patients with chronic bronchitis have varying degrees of breathing difficulty. Symptoms can be aggravated or relieved at different times of the year.

The main cause of chronic bronchitis is smoking. Risk factors include continuous attacks of acute bronchitis, air pollution, industrial fumes, etc.

People with an increased risk of developing chronic bronchitis include:

  • Smokers;
  • Passive smokers;
  • People with a weakened immune system;
  • People exposed to irritants at work;
  • People who live in a polluted air.

The signs and symptoms of chronic bronchitis include:

  • Inflammation and swelling of the bronchi;
  • Cough;
  • Production of clear, white, yellow or greenish sputum;
  • Lack of air;
  • Rales;
  • Fatigue;
  • Chest pain and discomfort.

Diagnosis is based on a medical examination. If wheezing or abnormal sounds are heard on auscultation, chest radiography, spirometry, sputum analysis, and blood tests are done.

Differential diagnosis includes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchial asthma, left ventricular heart disease.

The treatment of chronic bronchitis includes bronchodilators, cough medicines, anti-asthma drugs, anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids. Antibiotics are effective in bacterial infections.

The prognosis is determined by the degree of bronchial obstruction and its dynamics.

 

What is Emphysema?

Emphysema is a chronic progressive lung disease where tissues supporting the function of the lungs are destroyed. Due to the destruction of the surrounding pulmonary tissue, the alveoli become enlarged and incapable of carrying out a normal gas exchange.

The main symptoms of emphysema are:

  • Severe dyspnea, especially in physical exercise;
  • An effort to exhale;
  • A distinctly enlarged chest.

Typically, the dyspnea gradually deteriorates over many years. It is also possible to have a cough or a whirling breath.

The main cause of emphysema is smoking. Secondary risk factors include air pollution, hereditary predisposition, male gender, allergies and/or asthma and age.

Sometimes emphysema occurs as a result of the normal aging process, which leads to gradual degenerative changes of the lung tissue. The respiratory muscles, like all others, are weakening.

In rare cases, emphysema occurs as a result of congenital alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency.

The diagnosis of emphysema is made by examining pulmonary function, most often by spirometry, measurement of exhaled carbon monoxide levels, chest X-ray.

Emphysema is an irreversible, progressive disease. If the diagnosis is confirmed, urgent action is necessary – an immediate cessation of smoking and irritant exposure.

Pulmonary tissue damage is persistent and irreversible, but inflammation (and disease progression, respectively) can be delayed by corticosteroids (inhaled or oral). Breathing can be alleviated with the help of bronchodilators, cholinolytics, proper body positioning, and eventually oxygen.

Surgery reducing lung volume in which the most damaged tissue is removed allows functional lung tissue to work better. It has shown some benefit to a relatively limited group of patients.

The only definitive solution for emphysema is lung transplantation.

 

Difference Between Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema

  1. Definition

Chronic Bronchitis: Chronic bronchitis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the bronchi, characterized by prolonged cough and mucus formation in the respiratory tract.

Emphysema: Emphysema is a chronic progressive lung disease where tissues supporting the function of the lungs are destroyed.

  1. Causative agents

Chronic Bronchitis: The main cause of chronic bronchitis is smoking. Risk factors include continuous attacks of acute bronchitis, weak immune system, irritants, and polluted air.

Emphysema: The main cause of emphysema is smoking. Risk factors include air pollution, hereditary factors, male gender, allergies and/or asthma, age, and congenital alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency.

  1. Symptoms

Chronic Bronchitis: The symptoms of chronic bronchitis include inflammation and swelling of the bronchi, cough, production of clear, white, yellow or greenish sputum, lack of air, rales, fatigue, and chest pain.

Emphysema: The main symptoms of emphysema are severe dyspnea, an effort to exhale, and a distinctly enlarged chest.

  1. Diagnosis

Chronic Bronchitis: Diagnosis of chronic bronchitis is based on a medical examination. If wheezing or abnormal sounds are heard on auscultation, chest radiography, spirometry, sputum analysis, and blood tests are done.

Emphysema: Diagnosis of emphysema is made by examining the pulmonary function, most often by spirometry, measurement of exhaled carbon monoxide levels, chest X-ray.

  1. Treatment

Chronic Bronchitis: The treatment of chronic bronchitis includes bronchodilators, cough medicines, anti-asthma drugs, anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids. Antibiotics are effective in bacterial infections.

Emphysema: Inflammation can be delayed by corticosteroids. Breathing can be alleviated with the help of bronchodilators, cholinolytics, proper body positioning, and eventually oxygen. Surgery allows functional lung tissue to work better. The only definitive solution for emphysema is lung transplantation.

Chronic Bronchitis Vs. Emphysema

Summary of Chronic Bronchitis Vs. Emphysema

  • Chronic bronchitis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the bronchi, characterized by prolonged cough and mucus formation in the respiratory tract.
  • The main cause of chronic bronchitis and emphysema is smoking. Risk factors for chronic bronchitis include continuous attacks of acute bronchitis, weak immune system, irritants, and polluted air. Risk factors for emphysema include air pollution, hereditary factors, male gender, allergies and/or asthma, age, and congenital alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency.
  • Emphysema is a chronic progressive lung disease where tissues supporting the function of the lungs are destroyed.
  • The symptoms of chronic bronchitis include inflammation and swelling of the bronchi, cough, production of sputum, lack of air, rales, fatigue, and chest pain. The main symptoms of emphysema are severe dyspnea, an effort to exhale, and a distinctly enlarged chest.
  • Diagnosis of chronic bronchitis is based on a medical examination. If wheezing or abnormal sounds are heard on auscultation, chest radiography, spirometry, sputum analysis, and blood tests are done. Diagnosis of emphysema is made by examining the pulmonary function, most often by spirometry, measurement of exhaled carbon monoxide levels, chest X-ray.
  • The treatment of chronic bronchitis includes bronchodilators, cough medicines, anti-asthma drugs, anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, antibiotics. The only definitive solution for emphysema is lung transplantation.

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1 Comment

  1. I was diagnosed with emphysema in 2008, I have to be on oxygen 16 hours minimum. I have 27% lung function. I have lost count of the times that I have been hospitalized. I worked full time, but found it was getting too much for me, so i decided to find a better solution to get rid of the disease totally,during my research i came across Totalcureherbalfoundation gmailcom which i purchase the products from them, the tremendous cure has successful stop this disease from progression and gradually alleviate all symptoms which including chest pressure, shorts of breath.this herbal formula really saved my life after several years of pains but now im fully cured.

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References :


[0]Haas, F., S. Haas, R. Human. The Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema Handbook. 1st Edition. New York, Toronto: John Wiley and Sons, Inc. 2000. Print. 

[1]Lorig, K. H. Holman, D. Sobel, D. Laurent, V. González, M. Minor. Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions: Self-Management of Heart Disease, Arthritis, Diabetes, Depression, Asthma, Bronchitis, Emphysema and Other Physical and Mental Health Conditions. 4th Edition. Boulder: Bull Publishing Company. 2012. Print. 

[2]Yankova, Z. New Guide to Pulmonary Diseases and Tuberculosis. Sofia: Medical University Press. 2012. Print.

[3]Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pulmonary_pathology/4563270814

[4]Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bronchiectasis_imaging.JPG#/media/File:Bronchiectasis_imaging.JPG

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