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n. inflammation of the bronchi (see bronchus). Acute bronchitis is caused by viruses or bacteria and is characterized by coughing, the production of mucopurulent sputum, and narrowing of the bronchi due to spasmodic contraction (see bronchospasm). In chronic bronchitis the patient coughs up excessive mucus secreted by enlarged bronchial mucous glands on most days for at least three consecutive months in at least two consecutive years; the bronchospasm cannot always be relieved by bronchodilator drugs. It is not primarily an inflammatory condition, although it is frequently complicated by acute infections. The disease is particularly prevalent in Britain in association with cigarette smoking, air pollution, and emphysema. The combination of chronic bronchitis and emphysema is often referred to as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Subjects: Medicine and Health.

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