QUICK GUIDE TO BRONCHITIS
- What is Bronchitis?
When we breathe the air travels to the lungs, but from where? The bronchi are the main passageway for the air to the lungs when we breathe. The windpipe, trachea has bronchi branch on either of its side. And bronchitis is a medical condition which is followed by the inflammation of bronchi. Bronchi swell up due to irritation or infection resulting in difficulty in breathing. Bronchi produce mucus to trap dust particles but in bronchitis, they produce more mucus than usual which is tried to maintain by coughing. It is commonly associated with a lot of coughing, difficulty in breathing, followed by wheezing, and chest pain.
There are 2 types of bronchitis:
- Acute bronchitis: It is the more temporary kind and the usual bronchitis. It is the temporary swelling of the tubes which usually last for a few weeks accompanied by coughing and is more common, especially in winters. It is often followed by a viral infection or the same virus that causes influenza.
- Chronic bronchitis: The more serious one, and is characterized by a cough that continues for more than two months and sometimes for years. It is also known as a form of COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
With the basics about bronchitis clear it takes us to the most common and important question:
Is bronchitis contagious?
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.