“I’ve got bronchitis, but don’t worry. It’s not contagious.”
Chances are you’ve heard that from your co-worker or a family member when they’re coughing…incessantly. There is a generally held belief that bronchitis is not contagious. While there is some truth to this belief, it is not entirely accurate.
Bronchitis caused by a bacterial or viral infection most certainly is contagious. This is the most common type of bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis is not contagious, when caused by tobacco use or environmental factors. However, people with chronic bronchitis may also have an undiagnosed viral or bacterial infection contributing to their symptoms, so they may still be contagious.
Bronchitis is the inflammation of your bronchial tubes that can cause chest tightness, coughing, shortness of breath and sometimes fever. For bronchitis caused by a bacterial infection, antibiotics may be prescribed to treat it. For a viral infection when antibiotics are not useful, you may take over-the-counter medication to help relieve symptoms. As with most viral infections, time and rest are the best medicine. Chronic bronchitis requires ongoing care with a chronic disease management specialist, such as Dr. Gunawardene.
Tips to Help Prevent the Spread of Bronchitis
Because viruses or bacteria typically cause bronchitis, the way you contract bronchitis is the same way you contract other types of flus, colds, and illnesses. So, breathing viruses or bacteria in or passing it from your hands to your mouth, nose, or eyes usually spreads bronchitis.
For this reason, it is important to practice safe hygiene method around those with bronchitis, colds, and the flu. Frequently washing your hands, sanitizing surfaces that collect germs, and keeping your hands away from your nose, eyes, and mouth can all help you avoid bronchitis and other bacterial or viral infections.
Most importantly, make sure you get your yearly flu shot. Many complications can develop from the flu virus including bronchitis, so if you can avoid getting the flu, you may just avoid getting bronchitis. If you do end up getting bronchitis, be sure to practice healthy hygiene habits. It is important to cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze and cough, and wash your hands often to avoid getting someone else sick. Also, keep your distance from those who have weakened immune systems and those with asthma and other breathing complications.
While bronchitis usually resolves itself in 7 to 10 days, if left unchecked it can lead to worsening symptoms, or even pneumonia. If you think you may have bronchitis, Dr. Gunawardene and board-certified family nurse practitioner Shariffa Gunawardene at Wellington Advanced Medical Clinic can evaluate and treat your symptoms. For bronchitis treatment in Wellington, call (561) 434-1935 or book an appointment online. Specializing in primary care and internal medicine, we will work with you to get you back to good health.