Is Chronic Bronchitis Contagious And How is it Transmitted? – Bronchitis is a condition where the bronchi become inflamed. The bronchi are the airways that branch off from the trachea, so they are located in the lower airway. There are various causes of bronchitis, including:
- acute respiratory infections (ARI) which are generally caused by viruses. This infection is generally self-limiting and resolves itself in less than 2 weeks, except in people who have impaired immune systems, either due to disease (eg AIDS, cancer), drugs (eg steroids, immunosuppressants), etc.
- exposure to irritants such as cigarette smoke (both active and passive), abestos, dust, ammonia, etc.
- Suffering from other conditions that also irritate the bronchi, such as GERD (because the esophagus is located close to the bronchi, so it is also irritated)
- Age less than 5 years or more than 40 years.
Is Chronic Bronchitis Contagious?
Whether or not it is contagious and how it spreads depends on the cause of your bronchitis. If it is viral, then it can be transmitted through droplets, saliva droplets, or dried sputum. These airway fluids contain viruses which, when inhaled by people around you, will cause transmission.
When bronchitis is caused by cigarette smoke, it is not contagious per se, but can cause bronchitis in people around the patient due to the same exposure. For example, if you are an active smoker, then people around you can get bronchitis from inhaling your cigarette smoke. Various studies have shown that the ill effects of cigarette smoke are more severe for passive smokers than active smokers.
Children less than 5 years old are also much younger to get bronchitis even if they are not directly exposed to cigarette smoke, for example if a smoker father holds/kisses the baby after smoking without bathing, shampooing and brushing teeth properly. The harmful substances that cling to the smoker’s clothes, hands, hair, mouth, etc. will enter the baby’s body and irritate his weak airways. So in this case, bronchitis seems to be contagious. That’s why people whose bodies smell of cigarettes, or whose breath smells of cigarettes should not be allowed near babies.
For example, if your bronchitis is caused by an immune disease (such as AIDS) that makes your bronchi weak and easily irritated, then it is the HIV that is contagious.
So to overcome it, you need to know first what causes your bronchitis, because different causes have different ways of spreading. After that, you can prevent “transmission” according to each cause. If you do not know what the cause is, seek the help of a health professional by seeing a doctor.
For your condition, do the following:
- Avoid both active and passive cigarette smoke
- Wear a good quality mask when interacting with others
- Take medication as recommended by your doctor. Do not take medicines, herbs, supplements, herbal medicine, other substances that are not recommended by the doctor, because they may contain steroids or substances that can interact with the drugs given by the doctor.
- Do not share the use of eating / drinking utensils.
- Maintain hygiene by implementing health protocols to prevent virus transmission (similar to COVID 19 protocols).
- get vaccinated for flu and pneumonia.
There are several efforts that can be made to reduce the risk of developing bronchitis, namely:
- Do not smoke or inhale cigarette smoke.
- Avoid exposure to harmful substances or pollution in the air by always wearing a mask.
- Get enough rest, especially if you have a cough, runny nose, or fever.
- Take medicine as recommended by your doctor.
- Consume balanced nutritious food.
- Maintain hygiene and always wash your hands with soap and running water after every activity.
- Avoid sharing personal items, especially eating and drinking utensils, with others.
- Get vaccinated against flu and pneumonia.