Discharge Instructions for Chronic Bronchitis

You have been diagnosed with chronic bronchitis. With this condition, you cough up mucus for 3 months or more each year for at least 2 years in a row.

Home care

Here is how you can take care of yourself at home:

Quit smoking, if needed

If you smoke, get help to quit. This is the best thing you can do for your bronchitis and health.

  • Try a stop-smoking program. There are even telephone and online programs.

  • Ask your healthcare provider about medicines or other methods to help you quit.

  • Ask family members to quit smoking as well.

  • Don’t allow smoking in your home, in your car, or around you.

  • Don't use e-cigarettes.

Protect yourself from infection

  • Wash your hands often. Do your best to keep your hands away from your face. Most germs are spread from your hands to your mouth or nose.

  • Ask your healthcare provider about the flu and pneumonia vaccines.

  • Stay away from crowds. It's very important to do this in the winter when more people have colds and flu.

  • Take care of your overall health. That means:

    • Getting about 8 hours of sleep every night

    • Exercising for at least 30 minutes on most days

    • Eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains, lean meats and fish, and low-fat dairy products. Also, don't eat foods filled with fat and sugar.

    • Limiting the amount of alcohol you drink

Work with your healthcare provider

  • Take your medicines exactly as directed. Don’t skip doses.

  • Talk with your healthcare provider about ways to keep your mucus thin. Drinking a lot of water helps.

  • Talk with your healthcare provider about long-term oxygen therapy.

  • Ask your healthcare provider to show you pursed-lip breathing. It can help decrease shortness of breath.

  • During each care visit, talk with your healthcare provider about your ability to:

    • Cope in your normal environment

    • Correctly use inhaler techniques (or your medicine delivery systems) to make sure you are doing them right

    • Cope with other health problems you may have, including the medicines you take for them and how they might affect your chronic bronchitis

  • Find out about pulmonary rehab programs in your area. Ask your provider or local hospital. Also talk to your healthcare provider about a self-management program to help control your symptoms.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider as advised.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your provider right away if you have any of these:

  • Coughing

  • Increased mucus

  • Yellow, green, bloody, or smelly mucus

  • Fever of 100.4ºF (38ºC) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Chills

  • Swollen ankles

Call 911

Call 911 if you have:

  • Worsening shortness of breath, wheezing, or trouble breathing that doesn't get better with treatment

  • Tightness in your chest that doesn't go away with your normal medicines, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • A new, irregular heartbeat or feeling that your heart is racing

  • Trouble talking

  • Feeling of lightheadedness or fainting

  • Feeling of doom

  • Skin turning blue, gray, or purple in color

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