How contagious is bronchitis?

Bronchitis contagious?

Yes, bronchitis is contagious!
Bronchitis is over Droplet infection (Cough, sneeze) spread. Approx. There is usually no risk of infection 24 hours after the administration of antibiotics.

incubation period

As incubation period the period between penetration of the pathogen, in this case viruses, into the body and the first to appear Disease symptoms designated. This delay between infection and onset of the disease can be explained by the fact that the viruses usually initially multiply locally within the cells they attack. Once this happens, the pathogen spreads either via the blood or to neighboring cells.

Depending on the pathogen, the incubation period of diseases can differ greatly. With the viral pathogens common for bronchitis, such as parainfluenza, Coxsackie or adenoviruses, this is usually 2 to 3 days. The first signs of illness with which acute bronchitis presents itself are usually a dry and possibly painful cough. Later, a slight fever and cough with slimy, but usually clear sputum may appear. It is worth mentioning that bronchitis is contagious even before the first symptoms appear.

After / despite antibiotics

As a rule, bronchitis heals without any complications within a few days or sometimes a few weeks without further treatment. Apart from the fact that more intensive treatment of the inflammation is usually not necessary, in most cases there is no effective causal treatment of bronchitis available. Strictly speaking, the drug group of antibiotics only includes substances that are effective against bacteria. Since the majority of respiratory infections are not bacterial but viral, antibiotics are often of little use here. They can be particularly helpful here if there are indications of a bacterial superinfection (i.e. bacterial infestation of the bronchi based on the immune system weakened by the virus). Signs of this may be yellowish-green sputum when coughing; the expectoration of a viral inflammation, on the other hand, is usually clear and only occasionally permeated with pus. Antibiotics can also be prescribed in individual cases to prevent bacterial infestation.

As a result of all of this, antibiotics usually do not change the fact that bronchitis is contagious or how long the disease lasts. The best therapy for acute bronchitis is usually physical rest, drinking enough and, if necessary, administering cough suppressants.

Causes of bronchitis


How contagious is bronchitis?
As a viral and / or bacterial disease, bronchitis is contagious. The route of infection for viral infection is via droplet infection.

Reason for a acute, contagious bronchitis are usually viral infections. The most common pathogens are Influenza-, Parainfluenza-, Rhino- and Adenoviruses. Less than 10% of acute bronchitis are caused by bacteria.
The incubation period is usually 2 to 3 days, the transmission and thus contagion occurs through droplet infection. Is more productive for at least 3 months for two consecutive years to cough, one speaks of a chronic bronchitis. Since this often turns into chronic obstructive bronchitis, one speaks of grade 0 of COPD. This, on the other hand, has completely different causes than acute bronchitis.
The main reason are inhalative noxae. The focus here is on Tobacco smoking, occupational dusts, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, acidic aerosols and fine dust. In 90% of all cases the patients are active or former smokers. Approx. 50% of all smokers will develop COPD in their lifetime.

As a result of the chronic bronchial inflammation, the normal epithelium of the airways atrophies and remodeling reactions occur. The so-called Squamous epithelium. This is not designed for the actual demands of the airway epithelium and is therefore not able to remove pollutants, dust or other tiny particles from the Lungs to be transported out. This leads to a poorer exhaustion of oxygen in the lungs.
There is also one bronchial hyperreactivity, which for the narrowing of the Airways responsible for. In addition, the clinical picture of COPD consists not only of airway obstruction, but also offers one Emphysema. This is mainly caused by inhalative noxae. When you smoke, the protein-splitting enzymes predominate in the lungs.

This reduces the connective tissue and the connective tissue septa between the smallest Alveoli (Alveoli) disappear.
The gas exchange area thus decreases. In addition, the smallest blood vessels in the lungs narrow. This leads to the backlog of blood in the right one heart and thus causes hypertrophy of the right ventricle. In addition, the restoring force (Retraction force) of the lung from. This results in faster exhalation to a closure of the smallest Bronchi.
This means that less air can be exhaled and the remaining volume of the lungs increases. Overall, this leads to significantly strained breathing, which ultimately becomes ineffective. It comes to one CO2 Increase and decreased oxygen supply throughout the body.

How long does bronchitis last?

The onset of the disease is often characterized by an unproductive one to cough out. From this point on, the duration is bronchitis about 7 to 10 days. In some cases, the cough can last a little longer, but the disease is then often no longer contagious. How long the bronchitis lasts is difficult to influence. Medicationwhich fight a viral infection, as it is typical for acute bronchitis, unfortunately do not exist. The best way to shorten the duration of the illness is to follow tried and tested advice and the body Protection to treat much to drink and Not to smoke.


In general, uncomplicated acute bronchitis is not dangerous for the fetus. Nonetheless, it is advisable to use strong to cough, fever and other symptoms that suggest bronchitis, consult the Family doctor to keep. This can be important just to rule out other, possibly more serious, diseases. Another argument in favor of seeking advice from a doctor is the fact that a number of Medication are not suitable for use during pregnancy as they can be potentially harmful to the child. This includes even over-the-counter drugs such as Ibuprofen and aspirin (ASA, acetylsalicylic acid). Paracetamol can be an alternative to the analgesic and fever-lowering effects of these two drugs. However, the use of paracetamol should also be discussed with a doctor, as individual risk factors and the maximum dose for taking the tablets should be discussed. Be careful when using Nasal sprays required. The active substances contained in it can, if used frequently, restrict the supply of blood to the placenta and thus also the supply of the child with nutrients and oxygen. For this reason, Children's nasal sprays advised, which contain a lower concentration of the active ingredient.

The bronchitis in the baby

Especially at the beginning and during the cold season, many babies and toddlers develop respiratory infections. Babies can easily get bronchitis from their peers or sick adults because their immune systems are still immature. In addition, their airways are still very small and are therefore rapidly increasing due to an increase in the Mucus production constricted by the mucous membrane of the bronchi. In technical language, this is known as an obstruction of the airway. The consequences are shortness of breath, typical Rattling noises when breathing, elevated temperatures and fever and a slimy to purulent expectoration when coughing. As a reaction to the inflammation, the muscles of the bronchi can also contract and thus make breathing more difficult, comparable to an asthma attack.

First of all, it is important to ensure that there is no smoking around the baby. A warm, but not too dry one Ambient air is also conducive to recovery. In any case, however, if the child coughs heavily or for more than 3 days, a presentation to the pediatrician should be made. This can first decide whether the administration of an antibiotic is helpful and necessary and whether instead of a viral one, an allergic reaction may be the cause of the child's symptoms. He can also decide whether it is expectorant or cough suppressant drugs should be administered. Finally, inhalation medication can be prescribed in the event of obstructive (constricting) bronchitis. These treatment steps should help the baby recover quickly.


Acute bronchitis cannot be avoided and is a regular clinical picture in the winter months.
However, since this disease is relatively easy to limit itself, preventive measures are usually not possible. The most effective preventive measure of COPD is to do without Smoke and avoiding fine dust pollution in the workplace.
Patients who are sick with COPD will be preventative with vaccinations and antibiotics as well physical therapy and other rehabilitation measures to avoid acute deterioration in lung function.

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Further information from the field of lungs and lung diseases:

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You can find an overview of all lung diseases at: Diseases of the lungs