Respiratory system

How long is Bronchitis contagious

How long is Bronchitis contagious? ” This is the question that comes to the mind of many people who are suffering from bronchitis. We shall clearly try to explain your questions like is bronchitis contagious, if so how long is bronchitis contagious, etc in this article. We shall also explore what is bronchitis, what are the types of bronchitis, treatment options for bronchitis and also the ways in which you can prevent the spread of bronchitis.

What is bronchitis?

is bronchitis contagious
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Bronchitis is the inflammation or swelling of the bronchi, which are the airway passages that facilitate our breathing. Our Trachea divides into 2 main bronchi which further divide into bronchioles that connect with the alveoli of the lungs where gaseous exchange takes place.

Types of bronchitis:

There are mainly 2 types of bronchitis, namely Acute bronchitis and chronic bronchitis, depending on the causative factors, the duration of symptoms, types of symptoms, etc.

Acute bronchitis symptoms:

Acute bronchitis is the inflammation or swelling of the respiratory passages or bronchi which lasts less than 3 weeks. It can affect people of any age group but is more common amongst the people with lower immunity levels like the elderly people, kids, and infants.

Acute bronchitis is mostly caused by microorganisms and that too by viruses. It is mostly caused by influenza viruses which cause flu. Sometimes it is also called a chest cold. Its symptoms include:

  • A severe cough
  • Soreness in throat
  • Myalgias or muscle aches
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • A headache
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Chronic bronchitis symptoms:

Chronic bronchitis is a condition which is part of the disease called COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. COPD includes 2 conditions called chronic bronchitis and emphysema. These conditions are mostly seen in smokers, who have been smoking for many years.

Chronic bronchitis is not caused by bacteria or viruses as opposed to acute bronchitis. It is caused due to smoking. It can also occur as a result of excessive exposure to environmental pollutants and chemicals. A person is considered to have chronic bronchitis if he has symptoms of bronchitis for 3 months continuously in a year and the symptoms in 2 consecutive years. It is a long-term disease process. The person suffering from chronic bronchitis has many symptoms like:

  • Severe prolonged cough
  • Production of mucus or sputum while coughing
  • Discomfort in the chest
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath or dyspnea

Is bronchitis contagious?

As we have discussed, there are 2 types of bronchitis namely the acute and chronic bronchitis. Acute bronchitis is definitely contagious as it is caused by viruses mostly. Chronic bronchitis is usually not contagious but can become contagious sometimes if the respiratory pathways get infected. Let us discuss more below.

Is Acute Bronchitis contagious?

Any respiratory disease that is caused by microbes like bacteria and viruses is contagious. Acute bronchitis is mostly caused by viruses, so it is contagious. Sometimes, your acute bronchitis might get further infected with bacteria also, which also makes acute bronchitis contagious.

Is Chronic Bronchitis contagious?

Chronic bronchitis is generally caused by smoking or environmental pollutants as we have discussed earlier. So, it is not contagious most of the times. But, sometimes bacteria or virus might invade the respiratory passages of the person having chronic bronchitis leading to acute bronchitis. In such cases, the people with chronic bronchitis also become contagious as they have developed acute bronchitis.

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How long is bronchitis contagious?

Acute bronchitis is contagious most of the times. Chronic bronchitis is contagious when it develops into acute bronchitis due to infection of bacteria or viruses. So, it is better to assume that all people with bronchitis or a cough are contagious so that we can take necessary precautions to prevent the spread of infection to other people.

Acute bronchitis is caused by influenza or flu viruses which also cause the flu or common cold. A person with bronchitis is contagious for about 1 week from the onset of symptoms. The infection causing bronchitis can spread to other people when the infected person will cough, sneeze through respiratory droplets.

It can also spread when the affected person talks. It can also spread when the affected person touches his mouth or nose and then touches other things which are then touched by other people. People with weak immunity like kids and elderly people are more prone to catch infections from the people suffering from bronchitis.

Treatment of Acute Bronchitis:

Acute bronchitis is mostly caused by viruses, so your doctor might not prescribe any antibiotics to you as they are helpful to kill bacteria. The mainstay of treatment of acute bronchitis is conservative. It includes:

  • Taking plenty of rest at home and relaxing
  • Drinking adequate water throughout the day and keeping yourself hydrated
  • Using a Humidifier in your room which releases cool mist
  • Taking steam inhalation
  • Taking tablets like painkillers or antihistaminics if suggested by your doctor for body pains, headache, runny nose, etc
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Treatment of Chronic Bronchitis:

Chronic bronchitis has no permanent cure, similar to Asthma. Doctors just try to manage the symptoms of the disease. Various types of drugs are used for the treatment of chronic bronchitis-like:

  • Mucolytics to break the mucus which is excess in chronic bronchitis
  • Bronchodilators like salbutamol to facilitate ease of breathing
  • Steroids to reduce inflammation or swelling of the airways

Prevention of spread of Bronchitis:

As bronchitis is contagious, we need to take proper precautions to prevent the spread of the condition to others like:

  • Stay away from people who are not having bronchitis symptoms, particularly elderly people and kids as they low immunity levels.
  • Use a handkerchief and cover your mouth while coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash your hands frequently to keep your hands hygienic and to get rid of infection on your hands.
  • Don’t keep touching your nose, eyes or mouth with your hands as they can spread infection.
  • Wear a cover over your face to prevent the spread of infection through respiratory droplets from your nose, mouth, etc.
  • Get annual influenza vaccine

I hope you must have got answers to all your questions like is bronchitis contagious and how long is bronchitis contagious, is acute bronchitis contagious, etc.

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