Though less well known than emphysema, there are 14 million adult Americans that suffer from chronic bronchitis, which is the ninth-ranking chronic condition in our nation. Like emphysema, many who suffer from it are subject to periodic attacks of obstructed breathing, when airways of the lungs become inflamed and clogged with mucus, often in response to environmental irritants.
According to the most recent study by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the prevalence of chronic bronchitis increased in males and females from 1982-1996 and is higher in females than in males. For females, the rate increased about 65 percent (36.3 vs. 59.8 per 1,000) between 1982 and 1996. For males, the rates increased about 50 percent (31.4 vs. 47 per 1,000) over the same period. The difference in the rates was 4.9 per 1,000 in 1982, but increased to 12.1 per 1,000 in 1996 indicating an increase in the disparity by gender.