DEAR DR. DONOHUE: What’s the difference between acute and chronic bronchitis? I had a cough for about three weeks, and my wife insisted I see a doctor. He said I have acute bronchitis. I am only 30, and I have never smoked a cigarette in my life. My dad has chronic bronchitis. He was a heavy cigarette smoker. Does acute bronchitis turn into chronic bronchitis? – L.R.
ANSWER: Acute and chronic bronchitis are quite different. Acute bronchitis doesn’t become chronic bronchitis.
Acute bronchitis is a self-limited inflammation of the airways – the bronchi. Most often, the cause of inflammation is a viral infection, so acute bronchitis is not ordinarily treated with antibiotics. The main sign of acute bronchitis is a cough. The cough can last for a month or more, and coughing might bring up yellow sputum. The yellow is not a sign of bacterial infection. It comes from airway cells that have been shed. They regenerate in time.
Cough is the main sign of chronic bronchitis too. However, it’s a cough that doesn’t go away, and its usual cause is cigarette smoking. Chronic bronchitis is one of the two chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases – COPD. The other is emphysema, and both usually co-exist. You’re not going to get what your dad has if you don’t take up smoking.
The booklet on chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases discusses emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in depth. Readers can order a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue – No. 601W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6.75 Canada with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I would like to know if it’s safe and healthy to use an electric blanket or an electric mattress pad. I remember some time ago that people said they are not safe to use. They presented some danger to the body, but I don’t remember what it was.
My 80-year-old husband has a heart problem, and he has to take blood thinner. He is always cold. I thought that an electric blanket or electric mattress pad would help him. – A.P.
ANSWER: Do you mind if I spare you all the background information for and against electric heating blankets and electric mattress pads? I couldn’t make it through the winter without an electric blanket, and I have no intention of giving it up – ever.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: At 73, I am in good health and on no medication. I am careful about what I eat. I am kind of addicted to cappuccino. I drink three cups a day. Is that OK? – R.
ANSWER: Eight ounces of cappuccino – one cup – has about 70 mg of caffeine, about the same as half a cup of coffee. Your three cappuccinos don’t equal two cups of coffee. You are certainly under a safe limit of caffeine. I don’t see any reason for you to give up your cappuccinos.
Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL32853- 6475.
©2007 North America Synd.