What is Bronchitis?
Bronchitis is the inflammation of the bronchi, the main air passages to the lungs. People who are suffering from bronchitis experience problems when breathing in air because their airways are blocked by huge amounts of mucus or phlegm.
Types of Bronchitis
Bronchitis is classified as acute or chronic depending on the duration of the illness and its cause.
– Chronic Bronchitis
This type of bronchitis develops as a result of continued inflammation and irritation of air passages over a considerable period of time. The leading causes of chronic bronchitis include prolonged exposure to polluted air and smoking. It can also result from other environmental factors such as dust, vapors, fumes, as well as pollen.
This type of bronchitis can lead to coughs and production of mucus that can last up to three months or longer. Sometimes it can be a sign of other health problems and can potentially lead to permanent lung damage. If you are suffering from this disease, it is very important to see a specialist.
– Acute Bronchitis
Acute bronchitis refers to an acute respiratory tract infection. Almost 90 % of all acute bronchitis cases result from a viral infection caused by influenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus, or rhinovirus, among others.
In addition, acute bronchitis can also be caused by bacteria. This type of bronchitis is easy to identify because it is accompanied by coughing and mucus production. It is not as serious as chronic bronchitis and it can get better with rest.
Is Bronchitis Contagious?
Bronchitis can be contagious or non-contagious depending on the type of bronchitis one is suffering from.
- If you are suffering from acute bronchitis and happen to cough or sneeze, you will release millions of tiny droplets containing the viruses or bacteria that cause this disease. This means that you can easily spread it to an uninfected person through coughing or sneezing. Essentially, this means that acute bronchitis is highly contagious.
- Conversely, chronic bronchitis is not caused by a virus. For this reason, it cannot be passed from one person to another. However, this is true for chronic bronchitis that is caused by irritation from environmental substances. It is also very important to understand that chronic bronchitis can turn into acute bronchitis as a result of a viral or bacterial infection.
How long is bronchitis contagious?
In most cases, this depends on the type of virus or bacterium that is responsible for causing your bronchitis. It is usual for a person to become contagious for at least three days to one week at most.
Your doctor will tell you to assume that you are still contagious so long as you have a cough or cold-like symptoms. At times, it is difficult to tell whether you are suffering from common cold or bronchitis because the symptoms are quite similar.
However, if you continue to cough for one week or more, and you don’t have any other cold symptoms, it is possible that you are suffering from bronchitis.
For how long can I remain contagious after getting treated?
In some cases, your doctor might find it necessary to prescribe some antibiotics to treat your bronchitis, especially if he/she suspects a secondary bacterial infection. After taking your antibiotics for about 7 days, your infection usually goes away. Once you notice that your symptoms are starting to disappear, and the mucus turns from green or yellow to white, you are likely not to be any more contagious.
Symptoms of Chronic Bronchitis
The following are some of the most common symptoms of chronic bronchitis:
- Shortness of breath
- Dry cough that lasts for a period of at least three months
- Large amounts of mucus and phlegm in the lungs as well as lower respiratory tract
- Sore abdominal muscles in the chest.
Symptoms of Acute Bronchitis
The following are some of the most common symptoms of acute bronchitis:
- Muscle aches
- Sore throat
- Nasal congestion,
- Cough that lasts for several days or weeks
- Production of mucus that is green, yellow-grey, white, or clear,
- Mild fever
- Shortness of breath.
When do I need to see a doctor?
Chronic bronchitis is a serious disease and it can sometimes be an indication of other health problems. In addition, it can be a potential cause of permanent lung damage. For this reason, it is important to visit your doctor if you are experiencing one or more of the following symptoms of bronchitis:
- Difficulty breathing,
- Swollen feet
- Coughing up blood
- Symptoms that do not seem to improve or worsen after one week of illness
- Fever above 38 degrees Celsius accompanied by chills lasting 24 hours and over
How is Bronchitis Treated?
The following are some of the most effective treatment options for bronchitis; but in any case please go to see a medical professional before even attempting any of the treatments mentioned below.
Bronchitis is a dangerous disease if left untreated. It is therefore important to consult your doctor if you experience any symptoms that suggest you are suffering from this disease.
In addition, you can decrease the risk of chronic and acute bronchitis by quitting smoking, washing your hands regularly in order to limit bacterial exposure, and avoiding possible lung irritants , including smoke, dust, vapor, fumes, and air pollution.