To improve your CODP and to better understand it, it is useful to know a little more about chronic bronchitis and emphysema themselves. Here we will look at these in a little more detail.
Chronic bronchitis occurs where there has been considerable damage to the lungs and inflammation to the large airways. If you experience coughing with sputum production for most days, across three months at least of a year, for two consecutive years, then this is enough for the condition to be classified as chronic bronchitis.
The hallmark of chronic bronchitis is an increase in the number and size of goblet cells and mucous glands in the airway. This then means that the glands also produce more mucus which obstructs the airways and causes coughing with sputum. At the same time microscopically there is infiltration of the walls of the airways by inflammatory cells. This is then followed by scarring, and then healing of this damage which thickens the walls (as with any scar tissue) and thereby narrows the airways further.
As this progresses this also leads to squamous metaplasia. This is the term use to describe abnormal changes in the tissue inside the airway wall, and fibrosis which is scarring of that airway tissue. These then further limit airflow and can cause discomfort.
Patients with very advanced COPD whose condition is comprised more predominantly of chronic bronchitis have in the past been known as ‘blue bloaters’. The reason for this is that they end up appearing blue as a result of their condition as well as appearing ‘bloated’. The bloating comes from fluid retention (their bodies hold more water), whereas the blueness comes from ‘hypoxia’ or low oxygen in the blood.