You've probably already seen people out in a public place who are coughing a lot. You may also notice them wheezing and struggling to catch their breath. Chances are that they have a case of bronchitis and that starts you to thinking: just how contagious is bronchitis? And you wonder if you've been exposed or at risk of getting it too. The answer to your question may not be what you think.

Types of Bronchitis:

There are actually two different types of bronchitis you might be faced with and these are chronic and acute. Chronic bronchitis is an irritation of your airways and can last for several months and can come back repeatedly. This type of bronchitis is caused when certain irritants get lodged in your lungs like dust particles, chemicals, or cigarette smoke. Chronic bronchitis is not contagious because there are no bacteria or viruses that are spread through the coughing.

Acute bronchitis on the other hand, usually lasts for just a few weeks and is usually caused by a cold or flu virus. These viruses are already contagious, therefore, the resulting bronchitis will also be contagious.

How to Know If It's Bronchitis:

Once you understand how contagious is bronchitis, you need to determine if you or someone you're around actually has it. When the symptoms first appear it can be hard to tell if it's bronchitis or not. Since most people do not run off to the doctor for a simple cold or a flu, you'll have to gauge your symptoms for yourself. If you've developed a cough that lasts for more than a week, long after the other symptoms have disappeared, chances are that you have bronchitis. Then you need to determine which kind of bronchitis it may be, whether acute or chronic.

How Long Is It Contagious?

The length of the contagion can vary depending on the type of virus you're carrying. In most cases, even if you go to the doctor they won't be testing to isolate a particular virus because there are so many of them (hundreds). Most medical professionals suggest that you assume you're contagious for as long as you're experiencing the other cold symptoms, which is a period of about a week.

Once you realize that you're contagious take steps to avoid passing the virus on to anyone else. Viruses travel through the air and can rest on surfaces for a period of time. Stay inside and away from others for as long as possible, wash your hands regularly, and make sure that you cover your mouth whenever you cough or sneeze to avoid spreading the disease.

Having a cold, a flu, or bronchitis is never a pleasant experience but with proper care you can easily keep from catching it from others or spreading it to others while you have it. Once you know that you're dealing with a virus and you take the proper precautions you won't have to worry about anyone looking at you and wondering how contagious is bronchitis and whether or not they're going to get it from you.