Contagious ability, causes, prevention and treatment of bronchitis in 2022

Contagious ability, causes, prevention and treatment of bronchitis in 2022

What is the contagious ability of bronchitis in 2022?

Contagious ability, causes, prevention and treatment of bronchitis in 2022

Bronchitis is a health condition affecting the lungs and airways. It is an inflammation of the bronchi, which are the main breathing passages within the lungs. In some cases, bronchitis may be contagious.

When determining whether bronchitis is contagious or not, it helps to understand the different types of the condition.


Transmission of Bronchitis

woman is scared of catching her partners illness
People should assume they are contagious even if they are not yet certain that the illness is bronchitis.

There are two different types of bronchitis, acute and chronic. In most cases, acute bronchitis is caused by a virus. Chronic bronchitis is a type of chronic lung disease.

People with the chronic form of bronchitis can also get acute bronchitis by being exposed to the virus. A cough is a common symptom of both types.

A person with acute bronchitis can be contagious as soon as symptoms first appear.

In the early stages, it is often difficult to determine whether a cough is caused by bronchitis or some other condition. As such, it is best for a person to assume that they are contagious.


Typically, people are most contagious during the early stages of illness.

How is bronchitis transmitted?

The bronchitis virus can be transmitted from person to person when they are close to one another.

If a person with bronchitis coughs or sneezes, infected droplets will go into the air and land on surfaces.

These infected particles can infect another person and cause bronchitis if they come into contact with the:

  • nose
  • mouth
  • airway

Late symptoms

In many cases of acute bronchitis, symptoms such as an ongoing cough may persist long after the infection is gone. In fact, the cough can persist for several weeks afterward.

Once the infection is gone, bronchitis is no longer contagious. However, it is important that people maintain good hygiene and continue to wash their hands regularly.


Types of Bronchitis

The primary symptom of bronchitis is a persistent cough. The primary symptom of bronchitis is a persistent, usually wet cough that contains lots of mucus. A wet cough occurs because the airways have become inflamed, and they produce mucus in response.

The main differences between acute and chronic bronchitis are explained below.

Acute bronchitis

Acute bronchitis is defined as short-term inflammation of the lungs and airways, usually lasting less than 3 weeks. Acute bronchitis is most common in the elderly, infants, and young children.

A virus usually causes acute bronchitis, which makes it more likely that a person will develop the condition during the winter months when viral infections are more common.


With acute bronchitis, symptoms can be similar to that of a cold or the flu. For this reason, it is often called a “chest cold.” In addition to a cough, symptoms can include:

Chronic bronchitis

hand with a cigarette
People with a history of smoking are more likely to develop chronic bronchitis.

As opposed to the acute variation, chronic bronchitis is diagnosed when symptoms:

  • are ongoing
  • have lasted at least 3 months within one year
  • have occurred for 2 consecutive years

Chronic bronchitis is one of several conditions also known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.

If the symptoms of bronchitis are present and last for over 3 consecutive weeks, then a medical diagnosis is required. This diagnosis helps the doctor to determine whether the condition is chronic bronchitis.

With chronic bronchitis, symptoms are more likely to include:

  • a long-term cough with significant mucus and sputum production
  • ongoing shortness of breath
  • a history of COPD
  • a history of smoking

Since the symptoms of bronchitis can be similar to a range of other diseases, a medical professional will need to diagnose the condition to treat it correctly.

Causes of Bronchitis

A range of different factors may cause acute or chronic bronchitis. The causes of both types of bronchitis are explored below.

Virus and bacteria

Acute bronchitis is usually caused by a viral infection, similar to the viruses that cause colds and flu, which means acute bronchitis may be contagious.

Rarely, bacterial infections are a cause.


Environmental factors

Some environmental factors can increase the chances of developing acute bronchitis. These conditions cause airway inflammation and make the lungs more prone to infection.

It is best to avoid the following irritants where possible:

  • Air pollution: also known as smog.
  • Strong chemicals: inhaling these can irritate the lungs and airways.
  • Tobacco smoke: a person who smokes increases not only their own chances of developing both acute and chronic bronchitis, but also the risks for those who inhale the secondhand smoke around them.
  • Other environmental factors: other factors hat inflame the airways include dust, smoke, and large fires.

Prevention of Bronchitis

There are some steps that people can take to avoid or reduce the risk of developing both acute and chronic bronchitis. These include:

mother helping her daughter wash her hands
Maintaining good hygiene and washing hands regularly can help prevent the spread of bronchitis.
  • Stopping smoking: It is essential to take steps to quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke. Smoking weakens the immune system, making it harder to fight infections. Quitting smoking is the single best thing a person can do to improve their lung health.
  • Avoiding pollution: Avoiding areas with high levels of air pollution, dust, or fumes can help lower the risk of bronchitis and other lung conditions, such as asthma.
  • Wearing a mask: A mask that covers both the mouth and the nose can help to prevent exposure to lung irritants and decrease airway inflammation.
  • Getting vaccinated: In most cases, people should get a yearly flu shot, along with routine vaccinations for pneumonia and whooping cough. Preventing lung infections keeps people healthier year round.
  • Hand washing: Washing hands regularly, as well as keeping surfaces clean, may help to prevent viruses from infecting others.

Treatment of Bronchitis

The treatments for bronchitis may differ according to whether it is acute or chronic.

Treating acute bronchitis

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), antibiotics are not used to treat acute bronchitis because it is caused by a virus, and antibiotics only work against bacterial infections.

For most cases of acute bronchitis, the condition will pass within a few weeks.

Recommended treatments include:

  • lots of fluids
  • plenty of rest
  • a cool mist humidifier to ease your cough
  • steam from a shower or bowl of hot water
  • over-the-counter medications suggested by your doctor

Smoking can exacerbate your illness, worsening symptoms and lengthening recovery. It is important to cut back or quit smoking whenever possible.

Treating chronic bronchitis

Unfortunately, chronic bronchitis has no known cure. Instead, treatment options for chronic bronchitis involve managing and reducing symptoms.

Lifestyle changes are often recommended to control symptoms of chronic bronchitis. These include ensuring you eat a healthful diet and exercising as tolerated.

Pulmonary rehabilitation may also be useful to many individuals with chronic bronchitis. In some cases, doctors will recommend medicines. These can come in various forms, including:

  • inhalers and breathing treatments
  • mucolytic medicines
  • steroids
  • bronchodilators

Mucolytic medicines thin out mucus, while bronchodilators help to open up the airways. Steroids help to treat inflammation.

Keeping hydrated is also crucial in the treatment of bronchitis. Good fluid intake thins out secretions, making them easier to cough up and out.

It is important to seek the advice of a medical professional when considering treatment options for acute and chronic bronchitis. They will be able to provide recommendations that are best for a person’s overall health and any pre-existing conditions.

Prevention of Bronchitis

Cover your cough (so you don’t infect others). Wear a face mask or cloth covering your nose and mouth. Get a flu shot every year. Don’t smoke (and avoid exposure to secondhand smoke).

How can you prevent bronchitis contagious?

  1. Avoid close contact with people who have the flu or another respiratory illness.
  2. Wash your hands often or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  4. Get an annual flu shot.
Most cases of bronchitis can be treated easily at home with rest, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and plenty of fluids. You only need to see your GP if your symptoms are severe or unusual – for example, if: your cough is severe or lasts longer than three weeks.
Bronchitis itself — inflammation of your airways — isn’t contagious, but the viruses and bacteria that can cause it are. For instance, if you’re sick with the flu, you might get bronchitis too.
The most important cause of chronic bronchitis is cigarette smoking. Air pollution and your work environment may also play a role. This condition causes a cough that’s often called smoker’s cough. It also causes you to cough up mucus, wheeze, and have chest discomfort.
Albuterol is one of the more common bronchodilators prescribed for treating bronchitis. It comes in the from of an inhaler. Steroids: If chronic bronchitis symptoms are stable or slowly getting worse, inhaled steroids, can be used to help minimize bronchial tube inflammation.
Acute bronchitis is often contagious and caused by an infection—viral or, less often, bacterial or fungal. Chronic cases are not contagious and are caused by long-term exposure to pollutants or irritants, like tobacco smoke; this type often co-occurs with other respiratory diseases.
People with bronchitis have swelling and inflammation in their bronchial tubes, the air passages that link the mouth and nose with the lungs. Symptoms of bronchitis include a cough, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. People may also have trouble clearing heavy mucus or phlegm from their airways.
Treatment. Acute bronchitis usually gets better on its own—without antibiotics. Antibiotics won’t help you get better if you have acute bronchitis. When antibiotics aren’t needed, they won’t help you, and their side effects could still cause harm.
Chronic bronchitis is not curable but there are a number of treatments that can help you manage your symptoms. These include bronchodilators that open your airways, steroids to reduce inflammation, oxygen therapy and pulmonary rehabilitation.
The viruses that cause bronchiolitis are easily spread. You can contract them through droplets in the air when someone who is sick coughs, sneezes or talks. You can also get them by touching shared objects — such as utensils, towels or toys — and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
Viruses cause 85% to 95% of cases of acute bronchitis in healthy adults. The most common viruses are rhinovirus, adenovirus, influenza A and B, and parainfluenza virus; bacteria are usually commensals. Bacteria can cause bronchitis in people with underlying health problems.
People who eat a lot of salt are more likely to have long-term bronchitis. And a high-sodium diet can worsen asthma symptoms, but you may be able to help your lungs work better if you go light on salt for a couple of weeks.
You don’t have to take any medication. Antibiotics generally don’t help in the treatment of acute bronchitis because it is usually caused by viruses. Various medications can be used to treat the cough and cold symptoms – but only a few of them can noticeably influence the course of the illness.
Acute bronchitis usually lasts from 10 to 14 days, but some symptoms may last longer. For example, you may have a lingering cough that lasts for a month or sometimes longer. This is true for both children and adults. Older adults may experience more severe symptoms over a longer duration of time.
What causes acute bronchitis? Acute bronchitis is usually caused by a viral infection. This is most often the same viruses that cause colds and the flu. It may also be caused by a bacterial infection, or by physical or chemical agents that are breathed in.
Dairy products (such as milk, cheese, and ice cream) can sometimes increase the amount of mucus your body makes. Ask if you should decrease your intake of dairy products. Use a humidifier: Use a cool mist humidifier to increase air moisture in your home.
To diagnose bronchitis, your doctor will do a physical exam and ask about your medical history and symptoms. The doctor may also order a blood test to look for signs of infection or a chest X-ray to see if your lungs and bronchial tubes look normal and rule out pneumonia.
Chronic bronchitis treatments target your symptoms and include: Medications like antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and bronchodilators to open your airways. A mucus-clearing device to help you cough up fluid more easily. Oxygen therapy so you can breathe better.
Although a single episode of bronchitis usually isn’t cause for concern, it can lead to pneumonia in some people. Repeated bouts of bronchitis, however, may mean that you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Most people get over an acute bout of bronchitis in two to three weeks, although the cough can sometimes hang on for four weeks or more. If you’re in otherwise good health, your lungs will return to normal after you’ve recovered from the initial infection.
Chronic bronchitis is a type of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). COPD is a group of lung diseases that make it hard to breathe and get worse over time.
Viruses get into the air and onto surfaces after someone who is sick coughs, blows their nose, sneezes, or sometimes even just breathes. To keep from getting bronchitis, try not to be in close contact with people who have cold or flu-like symptoms.
To alleviate symptoms of bronchitis and manage the condition, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommend lifestyle changes that include following a healthful diet. A healthful diet consists of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains as well as lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts.
Your cough from bronchitis may be worse at night because the airways tend to be more sensitive and prone to irritation when the airway muscles are relaxed. 9 You may also feel more congested and stuffed up because mucus can pool in your upper respiratory tract when you’re lying down.
Warm fluids like water and tea can help to thin mucus, reducing chronic coughing. Research confirms that warm and hot beverages can produce almost immediate relief for coughing, sneezing, congestion, sore throat, and fatigue from illness.
That said, in some cases bronchitis does turn into (thereby causing) pneumonia. This occurs when either the infection spreads from the bronchial tubes to the lungs or a secondary infection occurs.
Expectorants: Excess mucus in the bronchi, lungs, or trachea can make breathing with bronchitis difficult. Expectorants help to clear mucus from the upper and lower airways. Guaifenesin (Mucinex) is a commonly used OTC expectorant.
The increased mucus causes airflow obstructions. Over time, chronic bronchitis can lead to permanent damage to the lungs, such as decreased lung function.
Elevate your head and neck. Sleeping flat on your back or on your side can cause mucus to accumulate in your throat, which can trigger a cough. To avoid this, stack a couple of pillows or use a wedge to lift your head and neck slightly. Avoid elevating your head too much, as this could lead to neck pain and discomfort.
Early remedies included garlic, pepper, cinnamon, and turpentine, whereas later therapies of choice emphasized coffee, ipecac, and potassium nitrate. Most of the favored bronchodilator drugs of today are derived from the traditional folk remedies, ephedrine, atropine, and theophylline.
Some patients need no treatment outside of rest, lots of fluids, and time. You may find relief with a humidifier or using the steam of a shower to help with breathing. Usually, if you see a doctor with symptoms of bronchitis, their examination will be to rule out other concerns, like pneumonia.
Air pollution, chemical fumes, and dust also can make chronic bronchitis worse. Get an influenza (flu) vaccine every year. This may keep the flu from turning into something more serious, like pneumonia. A flu vaccine also may lower your chances of having a flare-up.
To treat bronchitis and assist its prevention in further occurrences of this disease, following bronchitis diet is much useful. It includes: Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, Swiss chard, cabbage, collard green. Green vegetables have antioxidants which help in combat infection.
Chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, or emphysema that doesn’t go away or that keeps coming back could be a sign of lung cancer, and according to studies, the conditions may be highly related.
Ginger is a proven anti-inflammatory agent. During a bout of bronchitis, your airways are inflamed and irritated. Ginger can reduce the inflammation, helping to ease the cough. A 2016 study in a journal of alternative medicine found that adding ginger to a diet was effective at reducing cough in tuberculosis patients.
Cold air is often dry air, and can irritate the airways if you have asthma, COPD or bronchitis. This can cause wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath. Dress warmly and keep yourself dry.
Symptoms and diagnosis: The effects of chronic bronchitis can vary, but the most common symptoms include a persistent cough (that sometimes brings up mucus), wheezing and chest discomfort. Additional symptoms may include: A bluish tint to fingernails, lips and skin due to lowered oxygen levels.

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