Healthy Living

Bronchitis: The Top 10 Questions

1 Is bronchitis contagious?

Bronchitis can either be contagious or not. The reason is that there are different risk factors and causes that can lead to bronchitis. Acute bronchitis is usually caused by a viral infection including the cold and flu viruses. Another cause of acute bronchitis is pneumococcus, which is a bacterial infection and an exposure to chemicals that irritate the lining of the bronchi. Therefore, these causes make acute bronchitis contagious. The germs can be spread through sneezing or coughing. Thus, care must be done to avoid the spread of the condition. To prevent the disease from spreading, frequent hand washing and covering one's nose or mouth when sneezing or coughing should be observed. On the other hand, chronic bronchitis is not contagious as it is a long-term condition and is usually caused by a repeated exposure to things that irritate the lining of the airways.


The primary cause of chronic bronchitis is smoking. Other causes of chronic bronchitis include dust, air pollution, and fumes from a work environment. Chronic bronchitis is not contagious because it is caused by a long-term irritation of the lungs. However, some people with chronic bronchitis can also have acute bronchitis, which makes it contagious at the same time.

2 Is acute bronchitis contagious after taking antibiotics?

Yes, acute bronchitis is still contagious for some days even after taking antibiotics.

If the primary cause of bronchitis is a viral infection, the administration of antibiotics is not necessary. Antibiotics are not the proper treatment for a viral infection. Antibiotic therapy is only recommended if the cause of bronchitis is a bacterial infection. Thus, antibiotics are only applicable to 5 to 10 percent of bronchitis cases.

In general, people who are diagnosed with bronchitis are given antibiotic treatment only if they remain symptomatic even after 10 to 14 days. In addition, a sudden episode of acute bronchitis is not unusual in people who have chronic bronchitis. In these cases, antibiotic treatment is given for prompt treatment. The symptoms do lessen after taking antibiotics, but the contagiousness of bronchitis still continues for some days.

As long as the patient manifests the symptoms of bronchitis, even after taking antibiotics, the patient can still spread the pathogenic microbes to other people. Thus, preventive measures are indicated to patients during and after the bronchitis treatment course. They should follow a good respiratory hygiene. It is best to rest and remain indoors until one's symptoms completely subside. Doing so can minimize the spread of bronchitis.

3 How do you get bronchitis?

There are different reasons why people develop bronchitis. In general, bronchitis is caused by the inflammation of the bronchial tubes due to viruses, bacteria, and other irritants.

Acute bronchitis is a short-term condition that is usually caused by viruses, and most of the time, these are the viruses that cause colds and flu (influenza). That’s the reason why acute bronchitis often follows a cold or viral infection. The virus is contained in the millions of small droplets that come out of the mouth and nose when someone with the virus coughs or sneezes. The droplets typically spread about 3 feet. These droplets hang suspended in the air for a period of time and then land on surfaces where the virus is able to survive for 24 hours. Acute bronchitis can also be caused by a bacterial infection.

On the other hand, chronic bronchitis develops due to the repeated irritation and damage of the lung and airway tissues. This condition is commonly caused by smoking cigarettes. In addition, dust, air pollution, and toxic gases such as pesticides in the workplace or environment can also cause chronic bronchitis. Repeated episodes of acute bronchitis can also lead to chronic bronchitis in the long run.

4 What is the difference between bronchitis and pneumonia?

Bronchitis and pneumonia are two serious lung disorders. Both conditions can lead to a lot of discomforts and they may cause other serious conditions if they are left untreated. Although they have similarities, both conditions also have differences.

Bronchitis and pneumonia are caused by different factors. Bronchitis happens when there is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes. It may be caused by a number of factors, which include a bacterial or viral infection. It can also be caused by an irritation originating from pollution and smoke. Bronchitis may be chronic or acute in nature. Pneumonia is due to a lung infection. It may be caused by bacteria, fungi or by a virus.

Pneumonia is due to a lung infection. It may be caused by bacteria, fungi, or a virus. Pneumonia manifests itself in the form of high fever, chills, and cough. It can be accompanied by rapid breathing and a certain amount of wheezing. People with pneumonia complain of chest pain. Some people also feel nauseous and extremely exhausted. Pneumonia becomes apparent when the patient experiences a shortness of breath. The symptoms of viral pneumonia often resemble those of ordinary flu. Chills and high fever are experienced as well.

Bronchitis manifests itself as a cough with a headache, a slight fever, and chills. Shortness of breath may also be experienced.

5 How long does bronchitis last?

Most cases of acute bronchitis develop three to four days after a flu or cold. Acute bronchitis may start with a dry cough and then after a few days, coughing is accompanied by expelling the mucus that was accumulated in the airways. Many people with acute bronchitis get better in two to three weeks. However, in some cases, the cough may continue to last for four weeks or more. Acute bronchitis can also fade away even without treatment after a few weeks.

If you're in otherwise good health, your lungs will definitely return to normal after you've recovered from the initial infection.

Chronic bronchitis, on the other hand, is a more serious condition, which usually lasts for three months or even more. Chronic bronchitis can be described as a daily productive cough that lasts for three months in a year for at least two consecutive years. Chronic bronchitis, including emphysema, belongs to a group of lung disorders called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

6 What are bronchitis home remedies?

Bronchitis is not only managed through medical treatments but natural remedies as well. There are various home and natural remedies that can help in relieving the symptoms brought about by bronchitis.

Below are some tips that can help in the treatment of bronchitis:

  • Get plenty of rest. The body needs some time to recover and heal from the infection or damage caused by bronchitis.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Drinking lots of fluids can help prevent dehydration. It can also make the mucus in the lungs to be thin, making it easier to be expelled.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Doing so will not only help the body recuperate, but it can also prevent you from having the condition again.
  • Avoid or stop smoking and avoid smoky environments as these are the major reasons for the development of chronic bronchitis. Constant exposure can cause further damage to the lungs. If you can’t avoid smoky environments, wear a mask for protection. A face mask can also prevent your cough from getting worse if your cough is aggravated by cold air.
  • Use a humidifier at home. A warm and moist air can help relieve a cough and can help loosen the mucus in the airways.

7 What over-the-counter medications are there for bronchitis?

Most cases of acute bronchitis will go away even without treatment. Getting plenty of rest, drinking lots of fluids such as water and fruit juices, and increasing the humidity in the environment can help alleviate the symptoms of bronchitis.

There are various over-the-counter medications that can help improve the symptoms of bronchitis. Over-the-counter pain relievers can decrease the inflammation, lower one's fever, and ease the pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen can help with pain and inflammation. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs containing aspirin or ibuprofen can help relieve the pain caused by the infection in the chest. However, be sure to not to take more than the recommended dosage. Acetaminophen helps with pain and reducing fever.

Taking an over-the-counter cough suppressant is okay in a dry cough, which means that it is not producing any mucus. It is best not to suppress a cough that brings up mucus because this type of cough helps clear the mucus from your bronchial tree faster. Cough medicine is not recommended for children, especially those younger than 4 years of age.

An over-the-counter medicine containing benzocaine can help soothe an irritated throat tissue. It comes in syrup and cough drop form.

8 Does Mucinex works for bronchitis?

Mucinex is an over-the-counter medicine used to treat cough and chest congestions associated with a cold. The active ingredient in Mucinex is an expectorant called guaifenesin. Guaifenesin works to help release and thin mucous secretions in the chest in order to get rid of the congestion through coughing. This drug may cause side effects such as headaches, nausea, and vomiting. People who have bronchitis or are suspected to have any lung conditions need to consult with a physician or pharmacist before taking any medications.

Lung conditions such as chronic bronchitis and asthma may get worse while taking Mucinex. People who are smokers or individuals who have large amounts of mucus when coughing ought to consult a physician before taking Mucinex to avoid breathing problems.

Children under the age of 12 should not take Mucinex. The manufacturer, Reckitt Benckiser, produces a Mucinex product designed specifically for children with proper dosages. Children under the age of four should not take cough or cold products without a physician’s order. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need to consult a physician before taking Mucinex as guaifenesin may harm a developing baby.

For some doctors, Mucinex is safe to use for bronchitis. However, it is not that beneficial.

9 What are the treatments for chronic bronchitis?

There are different treatments available for chronic bronchitis.

A medicine called a bronchodilator may be prescribed by the doctor to treat chronic bronchitis. A bronchodilator opens or dilates the airways in the lungs and helps an individual breathe better. This drug is usually inhaled rather than taken as a pill. An inhaler is used to get the medicine into the lungs. It is very important for the inhaler to be used in the right way so that the person will get the most from the medicine.

If the patient has severe shortness of breath, the doctor may also prescribe other medicines such as theophylline.

If the symptoms don't get better with the medicines mentioned, the doctor may prescribe steroids. Steroids may either be taken with an inhaler or in pill form.

Pulmonary rehabilitation may help people with chronic bronchitis improve their breathing. Pulmonary rehabilitation involves breathing exercises, which can help people breathe easily and increase their ability to exercise. It is given by a respiratory therapist who is a health care professional who knows about lung treatments.

Antibiotics are not applicable for chronic bronchitis. Antibiotics may be needed if a lung infection is present along with chronic bronchitis.