Frequently Asked Questions

Is bronchitis contagious?

It depends on which type of bronchitis you have. Chronic bronchitis — which is typically caused by constant lung irritation from things like cigarette smoke, air pollution, and dust — isn't contagious. Acute bronchitis, which is usually caused by a virus, is contagious for up to a week (although symptoms may last up to three weeks). Less often, acute bronchitis is caused by a bacterial infection. If your doctor gives you antibiotics for bacterial bronchitis, you typically will stop being contagious 24 hours after you start taking the medication. To avoid catching acute bronchitis, keep your distance from anyone who has the flu or another respiratory illness. Ask the person to cover their nose and mouth when they sneeze or cough. Wash your hands frequently, and avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes.

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