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The COVID-19 pandemic had everyone running for hand sanitizers if someone sneezed or coughed. Today even when the pandemic is under control, the fear of the virus lingers. Bronchitis is a viral infection with somewhat similar symptoms to coronavirus. But the question of concern is if Bronchitis contagious.

Bronchitis is the inflammation of the airways, also called bronchial tubes. These airways are responsible for carrying oxygen into and out of the lungs. Bronchitis is varied into two kinds:

Chronic Bronchitis:

Chronic bronchitis isn’t contagious. It classifies as the repeated aggravation of the symptoms. The symptoms reduce but are never relieved, which is similar to COPD. Chronic bronchitis only affects patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases.

Acute Bronchitis:

The same viruses that cause colds and the flu also cause acute bronchitis, which starts out as an upper respiratory illness. Acute Bronchitis is contagious because a virus or bacteria causes it. Even after the initial symptoms have subsided, you might continue coughing for a few weeks. The infection itself usually takes 7 to 10 days to leave your system. Although bacterial infections can also induce bronchitis, they only account for about 5% of cases.

Is Bronchitis Contagious And Can Get People Around You Sick?

The answer is yes! Coughing, an emblem of bronchitis, is a convenient way to spread the germs that cause it. When someone with acute bronchitis coughs, sneezes, or talks, droplets of saliva and mucus spread in the air. Whoever inhales the contaminated air goes down with Bronchitis then. Therefore, it is advisable to cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow. Always wear a mask when sick. Wash hands frequently, especially after coughing or sneezing or before eating. Rarely, when a virus that causes bronchitis is transmitted, it doesn’t produce severe symptoms. However, sometimes it doesn’t affect the other person at all.

Is Bronchitis Contagious And Can Be Problematic to Healthcare Workers?

Bronchitis can affect people anywhere and belonging to any field. Healthcare workers are at the most risk of catching the disease from attending to patients who might have it. Therefore, healthcare staff should take standard precautions before and after treating the patient.

Bronchitis Contagious Period

The kind of infection, severity of the symptoms, and your general health affect how long your Bronchitis stays contagious. People are infectious for the first two to three days after contracting it. However, viral bronchitis can be contagious for a week, Cleveland Clinic defines. To rule out the possibility of transmission, CDC suggests staying home 24 hours after the fever subsides.

Do Antibiotics Make Bronchitis Less Contagious?

When a person contracts viral bronchitis, physicians avoid antibiotics as they have no activity against Viruses.

However, some bacteria may cause a disease leading to Bronchitis. These bacteria include:

  • Bordatella Pertussis
  • Streptococcus Species
  • Mycoplamsa pneumoniae

Acute Bronchitis caused by bacteria becomes contagious to patients with weaker immunity. However, if your symptoms are not relieved by anti-inflammatory medication and bronchodilators, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Bronchitis contagious period lessens to 24 hours after the first dose of antibiotic.

Is Bronchitis Contagious for Infants?

Infants suffer from Bronchiolitis. It is a condition where small breathing tubes of the lungs become filled with mucus causing inflammation. This inflammation and fluids restrict the airflow and make breathing difficult for babies. Bronchitis, however, affects the larger airways and is more common in older children and adults.

Brochiolitis-causing viruses are highly contagious and spread through airborne droplets from coughs and sneezes. The viruses settle on the surface. Babies contract these viruses when they pick toys or touch surfaces before putting their hands near the mouth or nose. Younger babies are more susceptible, so keeping hand hygiene is the best defense against viruses that can cause bronchiolitis. Moreover, keeping children away from people who suffer from colds or flu is advisable.

Signs And Symptoms of Bronchitis:

The initial acute phase of Bronchitis lasts for around 1-5 days. The patient experiences symptoms like fever, fatigue, and muscle aches. These symptoms may aggravate or reduce depending upon the nature of the infection and comorbidities.

Some of the most frequently occurring symptoms include:

  • Dry or productive cough
  • Mild headaches
  • Fever
  • Wheezing sounds in the chest
  • Sore throat
  • Chest congestion and swelling

Purulence, Dyspnoea, and increased mucus production are associated with the exacerbation of chronic bronchitis. Although, using mucolytic agents help with managing excessive mucus production.

Management of Bronchitis:

Treating acute bronchitis based on symptoms is a good approach because bronchitis is almost always viral. Antiviral treatment is started at the earliest onset to ensure efficacy. In cases where bacterial infection is the diagnosis, physicians prescribe antibiotics.

The progressive loss of respiratory function is a hallmark of chronic bronchitis and is not reduced by medications. Instead, they merely reduce its complications and effects. Reduced exposure to factors like tobacco smoke, chemicals, and air pollutants is the only intervention that delays the exacerbations.

How is Bronchitis Contagious? Minimize the Risk of Transmission

One can never avoid contracting bronchitis, especially if someone around you has it. However, following some measures can minimize the risk of contracting it. Especially people who have compromised immune systems are at risk.

1. Avoid Touching your Face:

Do not touch your face when you haven’t washed your hands for long periods of time. Do not bring your hands closer to the nose, eyes, or mouth without washing them first.

2. Frequent Hand Washing:

Generally, it is advisable to keep hand hygiene when outside the house. Because the viruses adhere to the surfaces, and touching those surfaces causes the virus to infect you. However, this should explicitly be a part of the routine for hospital workers to wash their hands frequently.

3. Getting Yearly Flu-Shot:

Flu and Flu virus are the most common causes leading to Bronchitis. Getting a yearly flu shot lowers your risk of getting sick. Research suggests even if you do fall ill after getting the shot, your illness will be milder. And there are lesser chances of developing Bronchitis.

4. Keep Your Immunity Boosted:

According to researchers, experiencing more psychological worry can make you more likely to catch a cold. However, maintaining a healthy immune system can help your body fend off illness. Activities like consuming a balanced diet and exercising can help. Exercise keeps things moving, which maintains a healthy immune system.

5. Avoid Over-Exertion:

Keeping exercise in routine is an effective way to boost immunity. It helps keep your health in check as well. However, too much of anything is poison! Hence, over-exerting yourself will only end up causing you more harm than good. Some studies show that moderate exercise can help reduce illnesses. Overtly doing them suppresses the immune system.

6. Cleaning Surfaces:

Viruses can stay alive for up to 48 hours on the surfaces after an infected person touches them. When a healthy person comes in contact with the surface, they become infected with the virus. However, cleaning the surfaces with isopropyl alcohol proves to be effective in killing the virus. Especially in the season of cold and flu. Or when someone in your home is down with the flu.

7. Quitting Smoking:

Smoking and inhaling the smoke increases your risk of getting Bronchitis. So, avoid smoking as much as you can. Avoid going to places that increase exposure to cigarette smoke.

8. Wear a Face Mask:

Face masks act like a shield between you and an infected person. Wearing a face mask decreases 80% of the chances of you catching the virus or irritants. Wear a mask in public if you suffer from asthma or COPD.

9. Using Zinc and Vitamin C:

Research has made evident that regular use of vitamin C, has shown an 8% reduction in common colds in adults. And a 14% reduction in children. The National Institute of Health suggests the usual dose to be 1-2g daily. There are no recommended doses for Zinc. However, studies show that a dose of 80 mg, if taken regularly for two years, helps enhance immunity. A WebMD study suggests that taking zinc lozenges also reduces the symptoms of common colds, bronchitis, and flu.

Is Bronchitis Contagious? In Conclusion

Acute bronchitis being contagious becomes an inconvenience, especially in people who suffer exacerbations of asthma or COPD. However, not all kinds of Bronchitis are contagious. Chronic Bronchitis is a manifestation of (COPD) chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder and is not contagious. However, acute Bronchitis develops after the person catches a cold. It can affect adults and children in the same manner. Viruses that cause bronchitis can stay alive on floorboard surfaces on toys for two days. While there are many ways to avoid catching the disease, there’s still a chance of getting infected. However, implementing some preventive measures can help reduce the exposure.


How is bronchitis diagnosed?

Doctors use different methods for the diagnosis of bronchitis. Some common ones include physical examination, chest x-ray, sputum tests, and pulmonary function tests.

How long does bronchitis last and is it contagious?

It depends on the type of bronchitis. Acute bronchitis is contagious and can last for 1 to 3 weeks. Chronic bronchitis is not contagious, but the symptoms last for at least 3 months.

What’s the difference between bronchitis and bronchiolitis?

While both conditions are caused by a virus, bronchitis affects the larger airways and bronchiolitis affects the smaller airways. Bronchitis is more common in adults, while bronchiolitis affects young children.

How long are you contagious if you have acute bronchitis?

If your acute bronchitis occurs due to bacteria, you stop being contagious after 24 hours. However, if your bronchitis is caused by a virus you can be contagious for a few days to a week.

What medications are used to treat bronchitis?

There are some medications that you can use for bronchitis after consulting your doctor. Some include pain relievers, cough suppressants, bronchodilators, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen.

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