One Man’s Quest to Treat Chronic Bronchitis, a Type of COPD

One Man’s Quest to Treat Chronic Bronchitis, a Type of COPD
 Over a number of years, 65-year-old Donald Summers went from having an occasional cough and clearing his throat, to increasingly frequent coughing attacks that produced mucus and exhaustion. It was aggravating and embarrassing. 

It also caused him to quit his job, yardwork and the long hikes he used to enjoy with his wife."I worked in a property maintenance job, and I just couldn’t do it anymore," Summers says. "I’d get into these coughing fits, and it just drained me. I didn’t have the strength."Several years ago, 

when his symptoms began to worsen, Summers saw a pulmonologist, who diagnosed chronic bronchitis. The disease affects an estimated 9 million people in the U.S. and is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

 Risk factors and symptomsChronic bronchitis can develop after exposure to cigarette smoke, vaping, airborne chemicals and other pollutants and irritants. 

In Summers’s case, he was a long-time smoker and previously worked in steel mills and around gasoline and other petroleum products.Patients with chronic bronchitis experience prolonged inflammation and excess mucus in the lung airways,

 causing a host of other potential symptoms and effects, including:

  • Excess phlegm
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Embarrassment
  • Sleep disruption

Treatments and limitationsSummers’ pulmonologist prescribed a nebulizer, corticosteroids and rescue inhalers, but they didn’t reduce the amount of mucus that would come up or the severity of his cough. 

This is not uncommon, as no treatment options are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that directly target the cells that produce mucus in chronic bronchitis. Frustrated, Summers kept asking his physician about other possible treatments. Persistence led to clinical study participationFinally, Summers’s pulmonologist mentioned a clinical trial for a new medical device being studied as a potential treatment for chronic bronchitis. 

Summers joined the study and received an investigational therapy called RheOxTM. In a minimally invasive procedure, the RheOx therapy delivers short pulses of electrical energy to the lung airways, directly targeting mucus-producing cells to reduce cough and mucus production in people with chronic bronchitis.

 RheOx has shown a significant improvement in quality of life and a reduction in cough and mucus over 12 months. Summers describes his own experience: "Before I had the RheOx clinical study procedure, I was constantly coughing and producing disgusting mucus. It affected my life, and I was embarrassed to go out in public. After the study procedure, the coughing has gotten a lot better. It’s not gone, but I can go out to dinner, hike and have a much more normal life

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