Bronchitis is a condition that occurs when the bronchial tubes that carry air to your lungs become inflamed or swollen. Acute bronchitis can be caused by infections or pollutants, and will subside after a short period of time. Chronic bronchitis is an ongoing and serious condition.
The most common symptom of chronic bronchitis is a chronic cough with mucus. Air pollution or breathing in hazardous substances can be a cause of chronic bronchitis. People over 45, and those who suffer from another lung disorder are at the highest risk of developing chronic bronchitis.
Symptoms of chronic bronchitis include coughing, wheezing, and chest discomfort. Chronic bronchitis may be diagnosed using lung function tests, x-rays, and blood tests.
The VA has a general respiratory rating system that is used to rate bronchitis and many other respiratory disorders. A rating is assigned based on how well the lungs take in air, absorb oxygen into the blood, and then exhale. Lung function tests, including spirometry, are used to evaluate a veteran’s level of disability.
Several different measurements will be evaluated when spirometry tests are performed. The forced vital capacity (FVS) tests the maximum amount of air you can exhale after taking in a full breath. Forced expiratory volume is tested to see the maximum amount of air you can exhale in one second. Other tests, such as exercise stress tests or heart tests, may also be performed.
The rating for chronic bronchitis will be based on the results of your spirometry tests. If your forced expiratory volume in one second is less than 40% of the expected value, you may receive a disability rating of 100%. You can also receive a 100% rating based on other spirometry tests, or exercise tests, or if you require outpatient oxygen therapy of have other related issues.
Lower ratings of 60%, 30%, or 10% may also be given if you have sub-optimal test results.
Respiratory problems are also commonly experienced by Gulf War Veterans with medically unexplained illnesses. If you served in the Southwest Asia theater of operations and have chronic, unexplained symptoms such as respiratory problems, you may eligible for presumptive service-connection for a medically unexplained illness.
If you need assistance with your appeal, contact Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick. Our veterans law practitioners have experience with every aspect of the appeals process. Call us at 401-331-6300 for a no-cost case evaluation.