Wednesday, October 19, 2016

WELLNESS WEDNESDAY: When Are We Contagious

Acute bronchitis is a chest cold that occurs when the bronchial tubes get irritated and inflamed, producing mucus that makes you cough. It can be the result of a bacterial infection, but most frequently is the result of a virus. For the most part, bacterial bronchitis and airway inflammation are not contagious; however, what precedes a bout of bronchitis is a viral infection of the upper airway, a COLD, and of course, colds are contagious. Patients should think of acute bronchitis as more a symptom of an illness rather than an illness itself.

In addition to acute bronchitis, more than 12 million Americans suffer from chronic bronchitis, which is one form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This condition is typically brought on by cigarette smoking, and is not contagious.

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza A or B viruses. Flu appears most frequently in winter and early spring. The flu virus attacks the body by spreading through the upper and/or lower respiratory tract. The common cold and flu are both contagious viral infections of the respiratory tract. The flu virus is spread from person to person through respiratory secretions. Cold and flu have similar symptoms; however, the flu is much worse.

Both cold and flu cause coughing, headache and chest discomfort; however, with the flu, you will run high fever for several days, and have body aches,fatigue and weakness. Symptoms of the flu also tend to come on abruptly. Complications from colds are typically minor, but a severe case of flu can lead to serious illnesses such as pneumonia. Many types of cold viruses are known, and new strains of flu evolve every few years. Both diseases are viral, so antibiotics cannot cure a cold or flu.

Pneumonia is an infection that causes the lung’s air sacs to fill up with fluid. Pneumonia is the result of bacteria. Coming in contact with someone suffering from bacterial pneumonia, imposes a risk for those bacteria to be transmitted to you, although that might not necessarily cause you to develop pneumonia. There are also types of pneumonia that are viral rather than bacterial, and those viruses are more contagious. Pneumonia stops being contagious when coughing stops, usually soon after the initiation of appropriate antibiotics.

When to call your Provider:
Those at risk for serious complications include:
  1. people over the age of 50
  2. pregnant women
  3. children under the age of 2
  4. those with weakened immune systems due to HIV/AIDS, steroid treatment, or chemotherapy
  5. people with chronic lung or heart conditions
  6. people with metabolic disorders such as diabetes, anemia, or kidney disease
  7. people living in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes
If your symptoms do not improve, if they worsen, or if you have:
  1. trouble breathing
  2. severe sore throat
  3. persistent fever
  4. chest discomfort
Call us with questions or concerns. 

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