When we talk about “bronchitis”, we are most often referring to acute infectious bronchitis which is indeed contagious. However, inflammation of the bronchi can be chronic and have other explanations than contamination by a microbe. Exposure to tobacco can, for example, explain a cough that keeps coming back.
Acute bronchitis: a contagious viral disease
Bronchitis is a inflammation of the bronchi characterized by the cough (at first dry then oily later). It is often preceded by a rhinopharyngite (common cold) and accompanied by fever and other symptoms (headache, sore throat, body aches, etc.).
In 9 cases out of 10acute bronchitis is a infection virale which can be linked to different viruses: virus influenza et para-flu, respiratory syncytial virus (VRS), adenovirus, rhinovirus… The disease is much more rarely of bacterial origin.
You understood it, the acute infectious bronchitisis a a contagious illness. Bronchitis pathogens are transmitted through secretions from the nose and bronchi as well as by the saliva.
Infectious bronchitis is transmitted by contact direct of person to person by the sneezingthe cough and the unwashed hands. It is also possible to catch the disease indirectly via of objects or contaminated food.
Be careful, repeated infectious bronchitis during the winter is not normal. These episodes must orient towards a diagnosis of asthma or COPD (especially in adult smokers in the latter case). Indeed, these diseases are likely to be complicated by bronchial superinfection. The vaccination against influenza (influenza virus) and pneumococcus may be recommended for people who have COPD or asthma. If in doubt, it is best to consult a doctor.
Chronic bronchitis: it is non-contagious!
When we talk about chronic bronchitis we are referring to the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease orCOPDinflammation and chronic obstruction of the bronchi.
This disease affects between 5 and 10% of the populationmostly smokers. 30% of smokers have COPD and the majority of them don’t know it.
The disease manifests itself as a chronic cough which gets worse. Then a shortness of breath can appear during exercise. Without treatment (or smoking cessation in smokers), the disease can be complicated by chronic respiratory failure.
COPD is not contagious. It can be the consequence of cigarette smoke, pollutioninhalation of chemicals and other irritating substances, allergic hypersensitivity or a chronic illness that weakens the respiratory tract (such as cystic fibrosis) etc.
Chronic bronchitis: what symptoms?
If you have been a smoker for more than 10 years (and especially if you are over 40), certain symptoms of chronic bronchitis should prompt you to consult a doctor to avoid any worsening:
- A wet cough (she is morning at the beginning then permanent);
- Of the sputum;
- Of the chest pain;
Ultimately and in the absence of treatment, signs of respiratory failure are possible: shortness of breath even at rest, cyanosis, swelling of the legs, etc.
Infectious bronchitis: how to avoid contamination?
To avoid transmitting or catching bronchitis during the winter season, it may be recommended to:
- wear a disposable or washable surgical mask when it is recommended (particularly in busy public places or gathering places);
- ventilate each room 10 minutes every hour;
- wash your hands regularly with soap and water or use a hydro-alcoholic solution;
- greet without shaking hands and avoid hugs;
- cough or sneeze into your elbow or in a handkerchief;
- blow your nose in a single-use tissue then throw it away.
Unfortunately, since the end of the health crisis, most people no longer want to hear about barrier gestures or wearing a mask. However, the covid-19 episode is proof that these behaviors are a necessary protection. Dr. Jean Tafazzoli, general practitioner.
Additionally, if you are sick you should isolate and avoid contact with those around you. Better too avoid exposure to the cold. Finally, it is advisable to cover yourself with warm clothes (wool, cashmere, fleece, down…).
Finally, in winter it is important to strengthen your immune system through a healthy lifestyle (balanced diet, regular physical activity, etc.).
An iron deficiency (iron deficiency anemia) can hide behind signs of fatigue, making the body more vulnerable to infections. Better to eat more red meat (at least two servings per week) or take iron supplements. Doctor Jean Tafazzoli, general practitioner.
Acute bronchitis: what to do? when to consult?
The course of bronchitis is favorable after one, two, or even three weeks without any medication being necessarily necessary.
“Rest and good hydration may be sufficient in the case of this viral infection. Let us add that antibiotics are ineffective for viral bronchitis,” according to Doctor Jean Tafazzoli, general practitioner.
However, you should consult your doctor if:
- your fever exceeds 38.5°C and lasts more than 3 days;
- the cough lasts more than 2 weeks ;
- you have difficulty breathing;
- you have a chronic respiratory or heart disease;
- you are over 75 years old;
- you have repeated episodes of coughing.
Also you should go to your pediatrician if:
- your child under 3 months coughs ;
- your youngchild (under 2 years old) has symptoms of bronchitis associated with difficulty eatingof the difficulty breathing and/or a unusual behavior.