What Is Acute Bronchitis? Is Acute Bronchitis Contagious? Know More About It

Bronchitis refers to the general inflammation of the bronchial tubes which are the air passages that carry air to the lungs. The tubes could become swollen and irritated, leading to increased production of mucus and a range of respiratory symptoms. There are two kinds- acute and chronic bronchitis.

What Is Acute Bronchitis?

Acute bronchitis is a transient inflammation of the bronchial tubes. The condition primarily results from viral infections, often stemming from the same viruses responsible for the common cold or influenza. Additionally, bacterial infections can contribute to the onset of acute bronchitis in certain cases. There are multiple symptoms associated with acute bronchitis.

acute bronchitis causes

  • Persistent cough – One of the hallmark symptoms of acute bronchitis is a persistent cough which can be bothersome for some individuals. It could be dry and irritating in various ways. The cough is often accompanied by the production of sputum, a mixture of mucus and other respiratory wastes. It can vary in color, ranging from white- yellowish gray or even greenish. 
  • General weakness – they also experience fatigue, a result of the body’s efforts to fight off the underlying condition. Shortness of breath and chest discomfort may also occur due to the inflammation of the bronchial tubes.
  • A mild fever and chills – It may accompany the condition as the body responds to the infectious agent. 
  • A sore throat – It could also be a major problem when you contract acute bronchitis. Though it is a common symptom, it majorly shows up when the infection involves upper respiratory organs.
  • Wheezing or a high-pitched whistle sound – This affects the person due to the narrowing of the windpipes. It could particularly trouble you after you engage in physical activity. In fact, the tightness in the chest could be troubling as well. Moreover, the mild fever and chills could escalate at any point which could make it take a turn for the worse.

Is Acute Bronchitis Contagious?

Acute bronchitis can be contagious, particularly when it is caused by viral or bacterial infections. The contagious ability of acute bronchitis arises from the ability of infectious agents to spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person sneezes or coughs. Viruses such as influenza and Rhinovirus are usually behind it. 

So what makes it contagious? Firstly, when an infected individual coughs, tiny respiratory droplets containing the bacteria can be released into the air. These droplets can then be inhaled by others nearby leading to the transmission of infectious agents.

Additionally, the viruses or bacteria may persist on surfaces and individuals contract the infection by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching their faces. Since the contagious period lasts long,  people with acute bronchitis must practice good respiratory hygiene including covering their nose and mouth while coughing or sneezing to minimize the risk of spreading of infection.  

How To Prevent It From Spreading?

Primarily, regular handwashing is important in preventing the transmission of the virus and bacteria. 

Secondarily,  one must also disinfect and clean door knobs to decrease the survival of bacteria or viruses.

Thirdly, individuals with acute bronchitis should wear masks to prevent the droplets from reaching a healthy person. 

Fourthly, you could also opt for vaccination against the common flu by getting shots. If you know someone is sick, do not approach them without covering your face and mouth. 

Lastly, find ways to prevent the infection by eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and adequate sleep. 

Also, remember to drink enough water to help the immune system fight off infections. In case, you are established to have the disease you should consult the professional immediately to take appropriate medications and take necessary precautions.

What Happens If Acute Bronchitis Is Not Treated?

Acute bronchitis if left untreated could give way to plenty of serious ailments such as chronic bronchitis which is a component of Compulsive Obstructive Respiratory Disorder. In some cases, people contract pneumonia or even impact the daily functioning of the lungs. This could make it difficult to conduct even the simplest of the tasks.


Though risk could arise from untreated bronchitis, it is seldom that it escalates like that. Usually, a combination of preventive measures might work out just fine. Taking care of the situation is important in most cases by following the protocols suggested by your healthcare provider. Take vaccinations to prevent the infection before it takes over and you could avoid it altogether.

About the Author

Nicole Carter is a dedicated and passionate nutritionist, committed to helping individuals achieve their health and wellness goals through the power of proper nutrition. With a Bachelor's degree in Nutritional Science and years of practical experience.

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