is bronchitis contagious

Is Bronchitis Contagious? How Scared Should We Actually Be?

April 5, 2019

Is bronchitis contagious? Read through the article to find out.

First off, just what is bronchitis?

Bronchitis happens when the lining of an individual’s lungs gets irritated resulting in bouts of coughing. There are two types of bronchitis and these are acute bronchitis and chronic bronchitis.

Types of Bronchitis

Individuals with acute bronchitis may have started out with a cold that was eventually converted to a cough that won’t easily go away. Acute bronchitis usually means that the said medical condition suddenly occurred and most possibly will affect the individual for only a short period of time usually lasting for about a week to three (3) weeks. As acute bronchitis is usually the result of the flu or cold virus which are both contagious in and of themselves, acute bronchitis can be contagious.

Chronic Bronchitis, on the other hand, can be caused by repeated irritation of an individual’s airways. Chronic Bronchitis will usually last for a number of months and can recur on a yearly basis depending on the individual’s exposure to identified irritants. These irritants may include chemicals, cigarette smoke, and dust particles. Since the usual cause of chronic bronchitis is irritants that generally are not contagious, then it is but natural to assume that Chronic Bronchitis will not be contagious.

Is Bronchitis Contagious? 

As stated earlier, Bronchitis can be contagious especially the acute type. Acute bronchitis is usually caused or initiated by a virus or bacterial infection. Since these microorganisms can stay in various areas outside the human body, people can get infected with bronchitis by simply touching certain items that have been exposed to the bacteria and virus that caused it. These items may include things like doorknobs, armrests, and subway support poles. Since bronchitis can be caused by the flu virus, taking an annual flu shot or vaccine may help fight against the possibility of developing bronchitis.

Bronchitis infections that are caused by bacteria can easily be transferred and infect people with immune systems that are compromised. Certain groups of people are more prone to this kind of bronchitis infection such as small or young children and older people. Some of the identified bacteria that may cause bronchitis are chlamydia pneumonia, mycoplasma pneumonia, Streptococcus species, and Bordetella pertussis.

What are the Symptoms of Bronchitis?

Bacteria-induced and infectious bronchitis will usually have an incubation period from four (4) to six (6) days. People who have been infected with this kind of bronchitis may feel headaches, sore throat, fatigue and tiredness, and runny nose in the first few hours of the infection.

Symptoms of bronchitis include chills, fever that is low grade, fatigue or tiredness. The mucus or phlegm can range from yellowish- green to clear and there is also discomfort in and around the chest area. Difficulty breathing, wheezing, and coughing also happens. These symptoms will resolve on its own after a few days up to two (2) weeks after the initials presentation of symptoms. Persistent coughing may continue even after symptoms have disappeared for a number weeks.

When Should People Seek Medical Assistance?

Fortunately, bronchitis will usually resolve on its own in the span of several weeks. Patients who feel extremely sick though may want to set an appointment with their doctor or health care professional. Patients who will also observe or experience the following symptoms or signs may need to pay a visit to their doctor:

  • Excreting bloody or discolored phlegm or mucus from the nose or from the mouth
  • non-stop wheezing or the feeling of being short of breath, adversely affecting the patient’s ability to accomplish various activities
  • Coughing that does not go away for more than three (3) weeks.
  • High fever with temperatures reaching 38 degrees Celsius

The patient’s doctor will also inquire about the individual’s medical history particularly with regard to cigarette smoking and if whether or not the patient already had his or her flu vaccine shot. Healthcare professionals will listen to the patient’s breathing using a stethoscope and will probably have a chest x-ray ordered to further check the possible causes of the patient’s cough.

It is important to keep in mind that infectious and acute bronchitis may eventually lead to the development of pneumonia so severe symptoms should not be overlooked by individuals. The frequent occurrence of acute bronchitis may also indicate that the patient is already developing a form of chronic bronchitis which should immediately be coordinated with a doctor.

What are the Treatment Options for Bronchitis?

Depending on what may have caused Bronchitis, treatment options for patients may differ. If bronchitis is caused by a viral infection, patients simply need to ride it out, taking in plenty of fluids and resting to get quickly get better. Doctors may also recommend medications that are available over the counter (OTC) to help lower the fever of the patient.

Antibiotics will be recommended by the patient’s doctor if it has been determined that the cause of the bronchitis infection is bacterial. Antibiotics will not work on viruses so it is best to seek medical assistance before starting on any form of medication for bronchitis. Self-medicating for an illness that will usually get better on its own may cause more harm than good to the patient.