Article Written by Home Doctor Brisbane Team

One of the most common health questions posed to Dr Google is… Is bronchitis contagious? The short answer is yes, it can be contagious.

But to save you some time wading through the medical information thrown up by a Google search, we’ve collated the most important information about bronchitis, a disease which will become more and more common as the weather gets colder in Queensland.

What is bronchitis?

Bronchitis is the inflammation of the large airways, called bronchi, which carry air to the lungs. When the bronchi become inflamed and irritated it causes an ongoing cough.

In the beginning this does not produce much phlegm but as it progresses the cough does start to produce mucus. Bronchitis is more common in winter and Autumn – the traditional cold and flu seasons.

The symptoms of bronchitis include:

  •  Coughing (either a dry cough or coughing up phlegm)
  •  Wheezing
  •  Fever
  •  Feeling short of breath
  •  Tight chest.

What causes bronchitis?


Many things can cause bronchitis, including infection, viruses, bacteria, smoking and breathing in irritating substances.

Why is bronchitis contagious?

The virus that most commonly causes bronchitis is contagious because it can be spread through the air when someone coughs or if you touch a surface where the virus has been left.

Different types of bronchitis

There are two types of bronchitis – chronic and acute bronchitis. The two variations differ most obviously in their length and severity.

Acute bronchitis can last for weeks and is most often caused by the common cold. Chronic bronchitis – which is usually related to smoking – can last for months and may return every year. In some patients, bronchitis can lead to more serious conditions such as pneumonia.

People who are most at risk of developing bronchitis are:

  •  The elderly
  •  People with a lung condition including asthma
  •  People with poor immunity
  •  Smokers
  •  People who often breathe in irritating chemicals

Treatment of bronchitis

According to Australian Doctor, most people recover from bronchitis over time and with rest, and treatment is only needed to control the symptoms. However, some types of bronchitis can be treated by antibiotics, though keep in mind that not all of them will respond to medication.

You can also try inhaling steam, putting a heat pack on your chest, having a warm bath, avoiding cigarette smoke, drinking plenty of fluids, taking paracetamol or having a teaspoon of honey at
night, either by itself or mixed in warm water.

Cough medicines may also help some people. If bronchitis progresses to a point where it becomes difficult to breathe, your doctor may prescribe a ‘puffer’ which is a type of aerosol spray medication to help open the airways.

When to see a doctor

Most people will recover from bronchitis without having to go to the doctor. But if your symptoms get worse, particularly if coughing leads to vomiting, you have chest pain, are short of breath, the mucus changes colour or you cough up blood it is very important to contact your doctor.

If it’s an emergency situation contact triple-0. If it’s not an emergency and it’s after hours, you can see a Home Doctor in Brisbane. Bookings can be made online, via the free mobile app or by calling 13 55 66. Visit the Consulting Hours section of our website for more information.