Is Bronchitis Contagious?

Nick Rosen, MD
Medically reviewed by Nick Rosen, MDMarch 4th, 2021
Couple sick with flu

If you’ve been diagnosed with bronchitis, or if you’re experiencing the symptoms of this condition, you might be concerned about where you got it from and whether you can pass it on to the people around you. But before getting into the question of whether bronchitis is contagious, it’s important to understand the difference between the two different types of bronchitis:

  • Acute bronchitis - Acute bronchitis is generally caused by an infection and often lasts for about 10 to 14 days. This is the more common of the two types of bronchitis.
  • Chronic bronchitis - Chronic bronchitis, which falls under the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (

    COPD) umbrella, is characterized by a productive cough that lasts at least three months per year for at least two consecutive years. This type of bronchitis is typically caused by smoking, but can also result from exposure to dust, air pollution, or toxic gases.

Of the two types of bronchitis, acute bronchitis tends to be the only one that’s contagious. This is because acute bronchitis is typically caused by a virus (viral bronchitis) or bacteria (bacterial bronchitis). Chronic bronchitis, on the other hand, usually isn’t contagious because it often results from the prolonged irritation of the airways.


How Contagious Is Bronchitis?

Because acute bronchitis is generally caused by either a virus or bacteria, it spreads in the same way that those illnesses do. For example, if you have acute bronchitis, other people could potentially develop the same condition if they inhale the microscopic airborne droplets you produce when you cough, sneeze, or even just talk. They can also become sick if they shake your hand or touch an infected object—whether it be a doorknob, a phone, or any other surface—and then touch their face.

How Long Is Bronchitis Contagious?

The length of time that bronchitis is contagious will depend on the type of bronchitis you have. If you have bacterial bronchitis and a doctor prescribes an antibiotic to treat the infection, you’ll likely stop being contagious approximately 24 hours after taking your first dose. However, if you have viral bronchitis, you’ll probably remain contagious for a few days to a week (unfortunately, antibiotics can’t be used to treat viruses).

How to Prevent Bronchitis From Spreading

If you have acute bronchitis, there are a number of steps you can take to stop the people around you from getting sick. Many of these are similar to what you may already be doing to stay healthy during cold and flu season. For example, you should:

  • Avoid close contact with other people
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Cough and sneeze into your sleeve or a tissue
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Use hand sanitizer
  • Wipe down the surfaces in your home

If you’re not currently sick, following these steps can also help you avoid catching bronchitis. You may also want to consider getting a flu shot, since influenza is often one of the viruses that can lead to the development of acute bronchitis.

At-Home Treatment for Bronchitis

One of the best things you can do to avoid spreading bronchitis to other people is stay home until you’re no longer contagious. Unfortunately, you can’t get the treatment you need without leaving the house. Or can you? Thanks to DispatchHealth, you can receive first-rate bronchitis treatment without having to step foot outside your home. Our experienced mobile healthcare teams bring first-rate care directly to you, allowing you to minimize the risk of spreading your illness to someone else at a brick and mortar setting (as well as the risk of you catching something from another patient).


Nathan Hindman

Once you’ve requested a visit, you can expect us to arrive within just a few hours. We treat almost everything that an emergency room can, but for a fraction of the cost. Many people expect that our in-home treatment services come with a high price tag due to the level of convenience they offer, but our visits actually cost about the same amount as a trip to an urgent care clinic. Plus, we’re in-network with most major insurance carriers, including Medicare and Medicaid, and we also offer uninsured patients a reasonable flat rate.

To request a visit from DispatchHealth, you can call us, visit our website, or contact us through our mobile app. We look forward to delivering the care you need.


DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies.

Sources referenced in this article:

The DispatchHealth blog provides tips, tricks and advice for improving lives through convenient, comfortable healthcare.

Related Content

DispatchHealth’s APP Fellowship Program Receives Accreditation

DispatchHealth Earns Accreditation with Distinction for Advanced Practice Provider Transition to Practice Fellowship

In sickness & in health

Couple’s Embrace of Home-Centered Healing