Chronic bronchitis occurs when the inflammation of the bronchial tubes becomes permanent. If a person has had a cough that lasts for over 3 months then they would be diagnosed with chronic bronchtis rather than acute.
The main cause of chronic bronchitis is continued smoking during acute bronchitis. The bronchial tube is continually irritated and this can lead to it being permanently inflamed. Other causes include air pollution in the workplace or general environment.
A constant coughing is the main symptom of chronic bronchitis, as well as a shortness of breath and wheezing due to swelling in the bronchial tube. Other symptoms may include swelling in the ankles, feet or legs, blue lips from lack of oxygen or frequent respiratory infections.
Smoking is usually the main cause of chronic bronchitis, so quitting smoking is the main treatment. However it can also be caused by dust or air pollution in the work environment, so a change of job may be necessary. The symptoms of chronic bronchitis can also be treated with corticosteriods for the inflammation and bronchodilators for the narrowing of the bronchial tube.
In the initial stages of chronic bronchitis, there will be a cough which generally occur in the mornings. This cough will steadily worsen and occur throughout the whole day. As the chronic bronchitis progresses, hypoxemia, insufficient oxygenation of the blood may occur along with hypoventilation, heavy or laboured breath.
The simple answer is yes, chronic bronchitis is contagious. However it is not as contagious as the acute form of the disease, yet the same measures should be taken to stop the spread of the disease, such as washing your hands regularly and covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough.