Here are the burning questions you searched for in 2015, along with answers from doctors and Health experts.
1. Is bronchitis contagious?
Acute bronchitis is a chest cold that occurs when the bronchial tubes get irritated and inflamed, producing mucus that makes you cough. It may or may not be the result of a bacterial infection, which makes this question a difficult one to answer.
“For the most part, bacterial bronchitis and airway inflammation are not contagious per se,” says Health editorial advisory board member David L. Katz., MD, director of Yale University Prevention Research Center in New Haven, Conn. and founder of True Health Initiative. “Often, however, the precipitant for a bout of bronchitis is a viral infection of the upper airway—frequently called a cold—and these, of course, are contagious.”
In other words, patients should think of acute bronchitis as more a symptom of an illness rather than an illness itself. “Generally, bronchitis is a complication of an infection involving the upper respiratory tract,” explains Dr. Katz. “That infection is usually viral, and contagious. The complication of the infection—bronchitis—is not contagious, however. The subtlety here is that some viruses can cause bronchial inflammation even in the absence of prior vulnerability of bacterial infection, so the ‘no’ in this instance is a qualified no.”
In addition to acute bronchitis, more than 12 million Americans suffer from chronic bronchitis, which is one form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This condition is typically brought on by cigarette smoking, and is not contagious.