Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the conditions that influence the work of the pulmonary system. When people suffer from shortness of breath, they should address a healthcare professional to be examined and avoid further complications. The pulmonary system consists of conducting airways (nasopharynx, oropharynx, larynx, trachea, bronchi, and terminal bronchioles) and gas-exchange airways (respiratory bronchioles, alveolar ducts, and alveoli) (McCance & Huether, 2019). Chronic bronchitis (damaged bronchial tubes) and emphysema (damaged air sacs) are the signs that the lungs cannot work properly, and urgent treatment is required in both cases.
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The major difference between chronic bronchitis and emphysema is that the former is a diagnosis, and the latter is a condition or a pathologic feature. Chronic bronchitis is serious because it is diagnosed when constant inflammations irritate the bronchial tubes. This condition is observed in smokers and becomes a sign of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Emphysema, in its turn, is characterized by abnormal enlargement of gas-exchanged airways and leads to the destruction of alveolar walls (McCance & Huether, 2019). Its distinct feature is that people can live with emphysema without noticing its symptoms until the condition becomes a problem.
COPD is a dangerous health outcome in people who smoke. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are defined as the main phenotypes of this disease that worsen the quality of life (Meek et al., 2015). Both conditions are characterized by such signs as fatigue when it is hard for people to walk or climb and chest discomfort that includes cough and irregular pain. Compared to emphysema, chronic bronchitis may be recognized by the presence of mucus and fever in patients of any age. In its turn, emphysema is frequently observed in people aged between 40 and 60.
To conclude, emphysema and chronic bronchitis are both dangerous conditions to people exposed to polluted air and smoking. The main contrast lies in their essence and definitions, and people should learn the difference to control the development of more serious diseases. Although it is possible to live with either emphysema or chronic bronchitis, the quality of life is considerably decreased, requiring additional care and medications.
McCance, K. L., & Huether, S. E. (2019). Pathophysiology: The biologic basis for disease in adults and children (8th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Health Sciences.
Meek, P. M., Petersen, H., Washko, G. R., Diaz, A. A., Klm, V., Sood, A., & Tesfaigzi, Y. (2015). Chronic bronchitis is associated with worse symptoms and quality of life than chronic airflow obstruction. Chest, 148(2), 408-416. doi:10.1378/chest.14-2240