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Bronchitis (cont.)

Causes of Chronic Bronchitis

Chronic bronchitis can occur any time during the year, but it occurs most often during the cold and flu season, usually coupled with an upper respiratory infection.

  • Smoking is one of the leading causes of chronic bronchitis.
  • Inhaled irritants from the workplace, pollution, or secondhand smoke are another common cause of chronic bronchitis.
  • Inhaling irritating fumes or dust can also cause a worsening of chronic bronchitis. Chemical solvents have been linked to worsening chronic bronchitis.
  • Several viruses can cause chronic bronchitis, including influenza A and B, commonly referred to as "the flu."
  • A number of bacteria are also known to cause chronic bronchitis, such as staph, strep, and Mycoplasma pneumoniae, which causes so-called "walking pneumonia".
  • People at increased risk of both getting chronic bronchitis and of having more severe symptoms include the elderly, those with weakened immune systems, smokers, individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and anyone with repeated exposure to lung irritants.

Is Chronic Bronchitis Contagious?

Chronic bronchitis describes a group of symptoms (including airway inflammation, over-production of phlegm, and cough), which can have various causes and are the result of repeated injury or irritation to the lungs.

  • Chronic bronchitis is not contagious if the cause is due to:
    • smoking,
    • air pollution, or
    • other inhaled irritants.
  • Chronic bronchitis is contagious if the cause is viral or bacterial infection.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/3/2015
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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Bronchitis »

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes, or bronchi.

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