Bacterial bronchitis: symptoms, duration, contagious?

Bacterial bronchitis: symptoms, duration, contagious?

Bacterial bronchitis is an infection of the bronchial tubes caused by bacteria. It causes symptoms similar to viral bronchitis. Is it contagious? Which antibiotic treatment? What if it continues?

Definition: what is bacterial bronchitis?

Bronchitis is a inflammation of the lining of the bronchii.e. tubes that connect the trachea to the lungs, explains Dr. Adrien Dereix, general practitioner. In almost the majority of cases, it is of viral origin (related to rhinovirus, influenza, influenza virus or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). It is a winter disease that affects several million people each year.“. Occasionally, bronchitis can also be caused by bacteria.Bacterial bronchitis can last longer than acute bronchitis (virus) – generally mild and which heals in a few days -, and presents more serious risks, especially in the elderly or more fragile people such as smokers or asthmatics“.

What are the symptoms of bacterial bronchitis?

Common symptoms include:

  • a productive cough (with expectoration of mucus),
  • breathing difficulties,
  • fever,
  • retro-sternal chest pain
  • on auscultation, a bronchial rale is heard

Some of these symptoms may be similar to those of viral bronchitis. It is therefore important to consult a doctor for a clinical diagnosis. “Medical consultation is important because with bacterial bronchitis, there is a risk of pneumonia, pneumopathy, chronic bronchitis, respiratory failure, or worsening of existing lung disease such as COPD“.

The main method of transmission of bacterial bronchitis is through direct contact with infected people, like when you cough or sneeze near another person, explains the doctor. Bacteria can also be transmitted by touching contaminated surfaces, like doorknobs or shared objects, and then touching your nose or mouth.”. Some people are at higher risk for bacterial bronchitis, such as the elderly, smokers, people with asthma or chronic lung disease, and people with weakened immune systems.

What is the average duration of bacterial bronchitis?

The duration of bacterial bronchitis varies depending on several factors, such as the person’s age and general health, as well as the severity of the infection. “In general, bacterial bronchitis can last from 7 to 10 daysbut it can sometimes last longers”, underlines our interlocutor. The evolution is favorable if the patient is in good health. “It’s important to stick with your treatment, even if you feel better, and take steps to rest and fully recover.”

Is bacterial bronchitis contagious?

bacterial bronchitis can be contagiousbecause the bacteria can be transmitted through respiratory droplets when someone coughs or sneezes. People who are in close contact with someone with bacterial bronchitis, such as family members or co-workers, are at higher risk of contracting the infection. It is important to remember that hygiene measures, such as washing your hands regularly, covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and avoiding close contact with sick people, can help prevent transmission of the infection.

When and who to consult in case of bacterial bronchitis?

If after 7 days the patient still has a persistent cough accompanied by symptoms such as fever, chills, chest pain, difficulty breathing, eating, fatigue, headache, you should consult your doctor, advises Dr. Dereix. The patient must then detail the evolution of his symptoms and possibly expose his other comorbidity factors such as advanced age, chronic lung disease, asthma, or a weakened immune system.“.

In general, the treatment of bacterial bronchitis is based on taking antibiotics as’amoxicillin or the Pyostacin to fight bacteria, details the general practitioner. In addition, you can prescribe paracetamol for chest pain and a cough syrup. We don’t give anti-inflammatories that could increase the infection.” It is also important to rest and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration and to help dissolve bronchial secretions. It is advisable not to smoke and to avoid smoky places to avoid irritating the lungs.

What to do in case of prolonged bacterial bronchitis?

If the patient shows signs of complications, such as severe breathing difficulties, high fever, or deterioration in general condition (AEG), hospital monitoring is necessary. He will then be treated, in addition to antibiotic therapy, with oxygen therapy and aerosol therapy. It is also necessary rule out an underlying lung disease such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which complicates the treatment.

Thank you to Doctor Adrien Dereix, general practitioner and Medical Director of ELSAN Prevention.

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