To know whether bronchitis is contagious or not, you need to know something about the types, causes, and symptoms of the disorder.
What is Chronic Bronchitis?
In chronic bronchitis, there is inflammation of the mucosal membranes of the bronchial tubes due to infection, a condition that leads to an excess in the production of mucus. This extra mucus disrupts the normal breathing processes by blocking the air passages and preventing the entry of sufficient quantity of air into the lungs.
Symptoms of Chronic Bronchitis
The symptoms of chronic bronchitis includes difficulty in breathing, breathlessness, wheezing, pain in the chest, productive cough, and discomfort. The typical chronic bronchitis cough, intense and persistent, is also known as "smoker's cough." These symptoms are persistent and intensify as the disease progresses. During the initial stages of bronchitis, patients notice its symptoms either in the evening or in the morning.
Chronic bronchitis is usually accompanied by pulmonary problems such as pneumonia and emphysema. With the passage of time, chronic bronchitis patients suffer from poor oxygenation and hypoventilation. Lack of oxygen results in cyanosis, a condition characterized by a bluish tinge on the skin that suggests the presence of pneumonia or emphysema.
Difficulties of Treating Chronic Bronchitis
Medical science has still not found appropriate medicines to cure this condition. It focuses on relieving the symptoms of this condition in order to prevent it from proceeding to more complicated stages. The disease can last for three months a year for two consecutive years, and there can always be a relapse.
People suffering from chronic bronchitis are more susceptible to all sorts of infection and do not respond easily to medication. The condition does not respond to antibiotics as well as acute bronchitis does. This is because the excess mucus produced by the bronchial tubes is an excellent ground for the rapid multiplication of bacteria and other infection-causing organisms.
Causes of Bronchitis
Smoking is not the only major cause of chronic bronchitis although the ailment is commonly seen among regular smokers. Smoking in itself does not cause the disease; but it facilitates the multiplication of bacteria and thereby slows the healing process in the respiratory tissues. Continuous exposure to pollutants such as hazardous chemicals, smoke, or dust is responsible for chronic bronchitis.
When acute bronchitis is neglected or wrongly treated, it often progresses to chronic bronchitis or some other pulmonary disorder. On the other hand, infection of the lungs is responsible for acute bronchitis. About ten percent of acute bronchitis is bacterial while ninety percent is viral. When a person is continuously affected by acute bronchitis, his or her bronchial tubes are weakened, and this paves the way for chronic bronchitis.
Factors such as industrial pollution are also responsible for chronic bronchitis. Most patients of chronic bronchitis are coal miners, metal molders, and grain handler. Many of them work in the midst of dust. Atmospheres high in sulfur dioxide can also aggravate the symptoms of chronic bronchitis.
How Contagious is Bronchitis?
Certain types of bronchitis such as asthmatic bronchitis is not contagious because virus or bacteria have no role to play here. This condition is contagious only when bacteria or virus are transferred from person to person by direct or indirect contact. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, fluid from his or her nose or mouth can spread to others around him or her.
Bronchitis can also spread when common vessels and drinking glasses are shared or when handkerchiefs or tissues used by an infected person are touched.
Since viruses complete their life cycle in a few days, bronchitis that follows a viral cold is not contagious. However, the condition is contagious if the patient still displays symptoms of cold.
If the person has been suffering from the condition for more than ten days, there is no danger of the condition being contagious; this is the aftermath of bronchitis.
Healthy people only need to take care to prevent getting infected. Beware of infectious particles when a person suffering from bronchitis coughs; you could then catch the infection.