Monday, June 24, 2024

“Is Bronchitis Contagious? Here’s What All You Need to Know” 

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Introduction 

Ancient Greek, Chinese, and Indian cultures have all recognized bronchitis as a condition for many years, it was identified by excessive phlegm and cough. The lining of your bronchial tubes, which transport air to and from your lungs, become inflamed when you have bronchitis. Bronchitis patients frequently cough up thicker mucus that may be colored. Pneumonia, productive cough, wheezing, malaise, and difficulty in breathing are a few of the most common complications of Bronchitis. Bronchitis is of two types: 

  • Acute Bronchitis 
  • Chronic Bronchitis 

Contagiousness of Acute Bronchitis: Also known as “Chest cold”, acute bronchitis is caused by the inflammation of the bronchi. Viruses are frequently the source of acute bronchitis. Mostly, these are the same viruses that cause the flu and colds. A bacterial infection, as well as inhaled physical or chemical irritants, are other possible factors. Dust, allergies, and potent fumes, such as those produced by tobacco smoke or chemical cleaning agents, may be among them. When a person with acute bronchitis coughs or sneezes, respiratory droplets can transmit the infection, often brought on by a common cold or influenza virus.  

A few to ten days may pass before the virus clears. The overall time that the symptoms last is typically around three weeks, but the cough may linger for a few more weeks beyond that. It normally takes a few weeks for acute bronchitis to go away on its own. 

 Contagiousness of Chronic Bronchitis: 

Also known as “smoker’s cough”, chronic bronchitis is a chronic respiratory disease marked by bronchial tube irritation and inflammation. It is a type of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) that can have a major negative influence on a person’s quality of life. Chronic bronchitis is not communicable in the same manner as acute bronchitis and is frequently linked to prolonged exposure to irritants like cigarette smoke. It is primarily brought on by repeated exposure to irritants like smoke or smog. Hypersecretion of mucus and mucins are symptoms of chronic bronchitis. In reaction to persistent discomfort, more goblet cells and larger submucosal glands create extra mucus. Excess mucus can cause COPD by narrowing the airways, which will reduce airflow and hasten the deterioration of lung function. 

Symptoms of Bronchitis: 

Most of the symptoms experienced in both the acute and chronic are common, which are: 

  • Persistent Cough: It can be dry as well as with mucous and phlegm 
  • Chest discomfort: Due to inflammation of bronchial tubes, some individuals may face tightness in the chest. 
  • Shortness of Breath: The lung will not function properly because of this inflammation. 
  • Fatigue: Due to less supply of oxygen there will be fatigue and malaise experienced 
  • Sore throat: Due to the cough there will be scratches in the throat leading to a sore throat. 
  • Others: Chills: headache, runny nose, wheezing, back and muscle pain 

Diagnosis of Bronchitis: 

Bronchitis is normally diagnosed using a combination of physical examination, symptom assessment, medical history review, and occasionally further tests. Here is a summary of how bronchitis is diagnosed: 

  • History: The doctor will ask you about the symptoms you are experiencing along with their duration and intensity. They will also try to identify the root cause of the infection and the type of irritant acting upon it.  
  • Physical Examination: The doctor will do a physical examination during which they might use a stethoscope to listen to your lungs for unusual sounds like wheezing or crackles or they could check the throat and chest for any indications of infection or irritation 
  • Chest X-rays: The X-ray shows images of internal tissues of different parts of the respiratory tract and helps identify the type of infection. 
  • Pulmonary Function Tests PFTS):  A device is used in this test, in which when a person blows it measures the airflow and lung capacity. The device measures the ability of the lung to move the air in and out of the lungs. The function of the lung is assessed by this test and it shows the severity of bronchitis. 
  • Arterial Blood Gas:  A blood test is done to detect the carbon dioxide and oxygen levels in the blood.  
  • Pulse Oximeter: With a device called an oximeter, the oxygen saturation in the blood is measured with its help. 
  • Culture: Samples are taken from the sputum of the cough or swab from the nose. It is used to identify the bacteria or other pathogenic microorganisms present. 

Treatment of Bronchitis: 

Earlier, Bronchitis was treated with garlic, cinnamon, peppermint, turmeric, etc. Modern treatments were introduced later in the 20th century. The treatment of bronchitis is based on the type i.e. acute or chronic. Most healthcare providers focus on managing the symptoms and allowing the body to naturally heal it. Some of the common treatment approaches for bronchitis are as follows: 

1      Hydration and Rest: 

Plenty of water and rest is advised so that the body recovers soon by fighting off the infections. The excessive water creates enough fluid in the body, thickening the mucus and removing its blockage 

2      Medication: 

A number of classes of medicines are administered to minimize the symptoms and treat bronchitis. Some of them are: 

  • Expectorant: They loosen the hard mucus in the chest so that it can excrete out by coughing up. 
  • Antivirals: Only prescribed if the cause of bronchitis is influenza virus. Antivirals act on the symptoms very rapidly. 
  • Cough Suppressants: They ease the cough for some time only. Normally taken just before sleeping to suppress the cough. 
  • Bronchodilators: These are the medicine that dilates the bronchus and helps open the airways.  
  • Anti-inflammatory medicines: They help reduce the inflammation of the bronchi and bronchus. 
  • Inhaler and nebulizer: inhalers help open the narrow passages of the lung, allowing it to breathe properly. 

3      Therapies: 

In the case of chronic bronchitis, if the conditions worsen and are not bothered by medication and other treatments, therapy is advised. The therapist helps with the breathing exercises training and education on managing the condition. Counseling is also provided 

Prevention from Bronchitis: 

As they say, prevention is better than cure, so we should try to prevent ourselves from the factors triggering and increasing the chance of bronchitis. The following preventions should be implemented: 

  • Always cover your mouth and nose while coughing and sneezing. This prevents the spread of respiratory droplets  
  • Wash your hands many from time to time 
  • Avoid smoking and also from smokers. 
  • Try to avoid triggers like dusk and pollens by using a face mask. 
  • Install humidifiers in your house and office. 
  • Drink a lot of water and get a good amount of rest. 
  • Eat healthy. 
  • Be up-to-date with the vaccines. 
  • Engage in physical activities and exercise. 
  • Do yoga and other breathing exercises. 

Conclusion: 

In order to take the necessary precautions and stop the spread of bronchitis, it is essential to understand how contagious it is. While chronic bronchitis is not transmissible in the same manner as acute bronchitis, it can increase susceptibility to respiratory infections. We can guard against the spread of bronchitis and can visit the nearest pulmonary disorder center if any symptoms are observed. Associated respiratory infections can be maintained through excellent respiratory hygiene habits. 

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