Chesty cough? Feeling miserable? Could it be a chest infection? Let us try to help you!
Here’s some information about Chest Infections and what our qualified GPs can offer to you!
What is a Chest infection?
A chest infection is an infection of the lungs or large airways. Some chest infections are mild and clear up on their own, but others can be severe and life threatening. Chest infections often follow colds or flu.
The main symptoms are:
- Chesty cough – you may cough up green or yellow mucus
- Wheezing and shortness of breath
- Chest pain or discomfort
- High temperature (fever) of 38C or above
- Aching muscles and tiredness
These symptoms can be unpleasant, but they usually get better on their own in about 7 to 10 days. The cough and mucus can last up to 3 weeks.
Avoid cough medicines, as there’s little evidence they work, and coughing actually helps you clear the infection more quickly by getting rid of the phlegm from your lungs.
Things to do!
- Get plenty of rest
- Drink lots of water to loosen the mucus and make it easier to cough up
- Use an air humidifier or inhale steam from a bowl of hot water (adults only) – you can add menthol or eucalyptus oil
- Raise your head up while sleeping using extra pillows to make breathing easier and clear your chest of mucus
- Use painkillers to bring down a fever and ease headaches and muscle pain
- Drink a hot lemon and honey drink to relieve a sore throat
Things to avoid!
- Do not let children breathe in steam from a bowl of hot water because of the risk of scalding
- Don’t give aspirin to children under 16
- Don’t take cough medicines – there’s little evidence to show they help
- Do not smoke – it can make your symptoms worse
Treatment will depend on what caused your chest infection:
- A virus (like viral bronchitis) – this usually clears up by itself after a few weeks and antibiotics won’t help
- Bacteria (like pneumonia) – your GP may prescribe antibiotics (make sure you complete the whole course as advised by your GP, even if you start to feel better)
Antibiotics are only used to treat bacterial chest infections. They’re not used for treating viral chest infections, such as flu or viral bronchitis, because they don’t work for this type of infection.
A sample of your mucus may need to be tested to see what’s causing your chest infection.
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