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Is Bronchitis Contagious? The Answer May Surprise You!

By HERWriter
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Bronchitis is caused by inflammation and swelling in the airways inside the lungs, which are called bronchi. Because these airway tubes carry oxygen to the lungs, the swelling associated with bronchitis can make it difficult to breath. Bronchitis can be caused by a variety of things, and some wonder "Is bronchitis contagious?"

Most people who have bronchitis also have a cough that may bring up mucus. Many people assume that bronchitis is not contagious, but that is not always true, because not all bronchitis has the same cause.

Acute bronchitis is the name given to bronchitis that comes on quickly and usually lasts for a relatively short time. This type of bronchitis is most commonly caused by a viral infection, such as the cold or flu virus. Other causes include bacterial infection such as Pneumococcus or exposure to chemicals that irritate the lining of the bronchi.

Acute bronchitis is contagious if it is caused by either a virus or bacteria. These germs may be present in mucus that can be spread through coughing or sneezing.

Special care should be taken to avoid spreading the condition, including covering the nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, and washing hands frequently or using hand sanitizers. Getting a flu shot may reduce your risk of bronchitis caused by the flu.

Chronic bronchitis, which is a long-term condition, is usually caused by repeated exposure to something that irritates the lining of the airways. Smoking is the primary cause of chronic bronchitis.

Other common causes include air pollution, dust, or fumes from a work environment. Because chronic bronchitis is caused by long-term irritation in the lungs, it is not contagious and cannot be spread to other people.

However, just because someone has been diagnosed with chronic bronchitis does not mean he or she can never be contagious. People with chronic bronchitis can also catch acute bronchitis.

So if coughing or difficulty breathing seems worse than that normally caused by chronic bronchitis, be cautious in case a contagious variety of bronchitis is also present.


eMedicine Health. John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP. Web. November 20, 2011.

Mayo Clinic. Is acute bronchitis contagious?. James M. Steckelberg, MD. Web. November 20, 2011.

MedicineNet.com. Acute Bronchitis. Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM. Web. November 20, 2011.

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. What Is Bronchitis?. Web. November 20, 2011.

PubMed Health. Bronchitis. Web. November 20, 2011.

Mayo Clinic. Bronchitis. Web. November 20, 2011.

Reviewed November 21, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

Add a Comment6 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Mostly bronchitis is caused by a virus and is therefore, contagious. So, basically the answer to this question depends on the kind of virus you have. Bronchitis may be difficult to identify from the common cold, but, a prolonged coughing sans the cold symptoms may be bronchitis. Acute bronchitis many a times starts as the flu, and the one caused by bacterial infections too may be easily transmitted to people. And the acute bronchitis is also called the infectious bronchitis caused by bacteria or viral infections. And therefore, is contagious. However, chronic bronchitis is very different and it is non-contagious. But, acute exacerbations of chronic bronchitis caused by superimposed infection in people with chronic bronchitis might be contagious. This leads to the other question i.e., how long is it contagious for? This also depends on the virus that caused it. More often than not it is contagious for at least three days, or as long as a week and it is best advised to stay indoors to prevent the transmission. It is the most contagious in the first few days after the symptoms appear. The bacterial bronchitis remains contagious, and can spread pathogenic microbes to others as long as the symptoms are manifested.
To Know more About Bronchitis visit on https://www.freedoctorhelpline.com/quick-guide-bronchitis-types-and-treatment/

January 19, 2017 - 11:21pm
EmpowHER Guest

My friend Have been sick with bronchitis for about 3 weeks . He have been to doctor twice and the emergency room. He sound like someone with emphysema. Doctors don’t really have any new treatment for him . They did a chest X-Ray and he didn’t have Pneumonia.

September 2, 2016 - 3:31am
EmpowHER Guest

"Chronic bronchitis can be diagnosed by your doctor. If you have been diagnosed with chronic bronchitis, see doctor if the following symptoms occur:

Increased shortness of breath
Chest pain with cough
Severe coughing that interferes with rest or sleep
Coughing up blood, rust-colored sputum, or an increased amount of green phlegm.

August 30, 2016 - 5:52am
EmpowHER Guest

People often get common cold during the autumn time and if it persists for longer then it may turn to bronchitis. So for fast relief or to get good prevention one need to quit smoking and can have turmeric in the morning during autumn. From this site http://www.doctorshealthpress.com/general-health-articles/is-bronchitis-contagious
I got more natural remedies which are the real help for my father who got this problem since a long time.

April 24, 2016 - 10:41pm

Is Bronchitis Contagious? The answers to these questions depend on the type of bronchitis one has. Acute bronchitis is considered the infectious bronchitis caused by bacterial or viral infections. In other words, acute bronchitis is contagious. It can last for as little as a few days to three weeks, and will often follow a viral infection like the flu or cold. Chronic bronchitis is a long-term lung disorder and a form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that also sometimes occurs with the other type called emphysema. A person with chronic bronchitis often experiences a cough with mucus during most days in a month. You will get more information at http://www.doctorshealthpress.com/general-health-articles/is-bronchitis-contagious

February 2, 2016 - 1:52am
EmpowHER Guest

This is the exact program I followed to get rid of flu and bronchitis naturally
( http://the-natural-way.info/cure-bronchitis-at-home.php ). You'll be absolutely thrilled with the step-by-step plan that guides you through the ultimate solution to get rid of flu and bronchitis, that you'll only have one regret -- and that is this: Not having had this valuable resource years ago!

December 17, 2014 - 2:49pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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