Is Bronchitis Contagious? How Long Is It Contagious?
You may experience different health issues with the change in weather. The most common are cold and cough followed by congestion, fever, or fatigue.
A cough can be a sign of a common cold, but if it progresses to the chest, it may be bronchitis. So, what is bronchitis? Can you catch bronchitis from another person? Or, is bronchitis contagious? Let’s see the answers in detail.
What Is Bronchitis?
Bronchitis is a condition where mucus membrane in the bronchial passages of the lungs gets inflamed. It is a lower respiratory infection and leads to cough problems. Bronchitis is contagious depending on the type you have.
People with bronchitis suffer from breathing issues as the excessive amount of phlegm and mucus blocks the airways. The phlegm and the mucus secretion leads to cough and uneasiness.
Is Bronchitis Contagious?
So, how do you get bronchitis? People are often concerned about bronchitis and think “is bronchitis contagious?” Should we stay at home when we have it? Can I get it if some of my friends or colleagues have it?
Bronchitis may or may not be contagious. It depends on the kind of bronchitis one suffers from.
There are two types of bronchitis – Acute Bronchitis and Chronic Bronchitis. Let’s know about them in detail:
1. Acute Bronchitis
This is infectious bronchitis. Viral and bacterial infections cause acute bronchitis. Acute bronchitis is contagious and passes from person to person. It is usually followed by the viral flu or cold.
Acute bronchitis can last for a few days up to three weeks. This type of bronchitis is more severe than average common cold but less severe than pneumonia.
2. Chronic Bronchitis
Chronic bronchitis is vastly different from acute bronchitis. It is a long term lung disorder caused due to long term irritation and inflammation of the air passages.
It is a type of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder), a progressive lung disease. The common causes of chronic bronchitis include smoking or exposure to polluted air.
There are several ways by which the spread of bronchitis can be controlled and prevented. Some of the most efficient ways include:
- Vaccination: Vaccinated helps avoid the disease and prepares your immune system to fight against the same.
- Personal Hygiene: Daily showers and washing your hands frequently can help keep germs away. Cover your mouth and nose while coughing and sneezing to avoid the spread of the infection.
- Avoid Smoking and Polluted Air: Cigarette smoke is one of the most common causes of bronchitis. Avoid smoking and exposure to polluted air or industrial pollutants.
Is Bronchitis Contagious in Children?
Yes, bronchitis is contagious in children. It spreads faster in children than adults. There are many reasons to this, and some of them are:
- Children are not very particular about hygiene
- Their hands may be infected with viruses and bacteria which when put in the mouth can lead to infections
- Children avoid covering their mouth while coughing or sneezing
- They have weaker immune systems which make them susceptible to illnesses
The spread of bronchitis among children is common. The tiny droplets of viruses can quickly spread because of the carelessness and therefore adversely affect children.
What Causes Bronchitis?
The underlying causes of bronchitis depend on the type of bronchitis you develop. Here are the causes of bronchitis:
1. Acute bronchitis
It is the infectious and contagious bronchitis which is caused due to viral and bacterial infections. Following are the factors which contribute to acute bronchitis:
Lung irritants or infections: Lung irritants or infections are the primary cause of this type of bronchitis.
Smoking: Smoking can worsen bronchitis and can be considered a potential cause of it. Bronchitis caused due to smoking is not contagious.
Air pollutants and other environmental factors: Bronchitis when caused because of excessive exposure to air pollutants and other environmental factors like vapors, pollen, dust or fumes is not contagious.
Bacterial agents: Bacteria like Chlamydia pneumonia, Haemophilus, Streptococcus, Moraxella, bordetella, mycoplasma can cause bacterial infection and lead to bronchitis.
2. Chronic Bronchitis
Chronic bronchitis is the long term lung disorder and not contagious. Let us look into the factors that can lead to this type of bronchitis:
Inflammation: Continuous inflammation in the lungs and air pipes can result in chronic bronchitis.
Cigarette smoking: Cigarette smoking can be a major factor leading to chronic bronchitis.
Environmental factors: Factors like fumes, vapors and pollens can also lead to chronic bronchitis.
Bacterial and viral infections which cause acute bronchitis can further lead to chronic bronchitis.
Underlying diseases: Some diseases like asthma, cystic fibrosis, congestive heart failure, immune deficiency may progress into bronchitis.
Bronchitis Risk Factors
Some factors increase your risk of getting bronchitis. They include:
Smoking: Smoking can increase the possibility of having bronchitis. It leads to inflammation in the lungs and air pipes.
Low resistance: People with a weak immune system are more prone to illnesses. Bronchitis is common among infants, children, and older people.
Exposure to irritants on the job: Individuals who get exposed to irritants like chemical fumes, grains, or textiles are prone to bronchitis.
Gastric reflux: Constant bouts of heartburn can lead to irritation in the throat and make you vulnerable to bronchitis.
How Long is Bronchitis Contagious For?
It ‘s hard to differentiate between bronchitis and the common cold in the beginning. If the coughing continues even after other symptoms vanish, there are chances that you may be suffering from bronchitis.
Knowing how long is it contagious for depends on the virus that caused it. On average bronchitis can be contagious from three days to a week. It is better to stay at home once you get infected so that you don’t pass the infection to others.
How is Bronchitis Treated?
When you catch bronchitis, you will be advised to drink fluids, take rest, breathe warm and moist air and take OTC suppressants.
Pain relievers and cough suppressants may also help. If these simple remedies aren’t effective then you can consult the doctor who may prescribe the following:
Cough medicines: A cough should not be suppressed as it is the most important way of bringing the mucus up. But if coughing causes a problem and exerts pressure on your throat then a cough medicine will come to your rescue.
Bronchodilators: It brings up mucus and clears the bronchial pathway
Mucolytics: It thins and loosens the mucus so that it is easier to cough it out without any inflammation
Anti-inflammatory medicines: these are important to reduce inflammations that damage the tissue
Oxygen therapy: It helps when breathlessness occurs, or the patient has difficulty in breathing or taking in oxygen
Antibiotics: The antibiotics are helpful for bacterial infections, but they can’t treat viral infections. They can help prevent the secondary infections.
Some behavioral remedies for bronchitis include:
- Quit smoking: Avoid smoking or anything that irritates your lungs.
- Exercise: It is essential to have minimal exercises in your daily routine as it helps keep the blood flowing and regulates your breathing patterns.
- Breathing exercises: People who have asthma and other respiratory problems should practice breathing exercises to control breathing and avoid irritation.
- Use a humidifier: It helps in loosening the mucus and keeps the air flowing into the nasal cavity.
Some natural treatments for bronchitis include:
- Eucalyptus oil
- Gargling salt water
- An Epsom salt bath
- Sesame seeds
- Oregano oil
- Bay leaf
- Holy basil
- Malabar nut
How to Prevent Bronchitis?
Some preventive measures you can use to prevent bronchitis are:
- Quit smoking: This will help you a lot as it reduces the inflammation in the lungs and throat.
- Washing hands: This helps in avoiding the spread of bacteria and viruses that lead to bronchitis.
- Avoid lung irritants: One should avoid anything like fumes, pollens, and vapors that can lead to lung inflammation.