An infection of the chest occurs when the lungs or large airways become infected. In some cases, chest infections clear up on their own and are not a cause for concern. There are, however, other chest infections that can be quite severe and even life-threatening. Chest infections are very common especially after a cold or flu during the autumn and winter months.
The most common causes of chest infections are bronchitis and pneumonia. Bronchitis is caused by viruses whereas pneumonia is caused due to bacteria. These infections are able to spread from person to person when the individual with the infection coughs or sneezes. When this happens small particles of fluid containing the virus or bacteria enter the air, where they are then breathed in by others. These infections can spread from our hands or passed onto surfaces we interact with every day.
If an infected individual coughs or sneezes into their hands or onto a surface these particles containing the virus can be picked up by others. It’s important that individuals wash their hands frequently to wash away any particles that may have attached themselves to our hands.
There is a certain group of individuals who are at high risk for developing serious chest infections, such as:
- Babies and young children
- People who are overweight
- Elderly people
- Pregnant women
- People with conditions such as (asthma, heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease)
If you have contracted a chest infection and are not a high risk individual then you have nothing to be concerned about as the infection will clear up on its own, it will usually take a few days or weeks to completely clear.
Majority of the time people don’t need to advise their GP, unless you are showing symptoms that suggest it could be more serious. For instance, if you are coughing up blood, experiencing pain when breathing or your symptoms are not improving.
On the other hand, individuals are able to clear their chest infections at home by:
- Getting plenty of rest
- Drinking plenty of fluids (this will break up the mucus in your lungs)
- Take paracetamol or ibuprofen to treat any fevers or headaches
- If you smoke it would be helpful to stop until your better so you can recover more quickly
Individuals should be aware that coughing actually help’s your chest infection clear up, as it is allowing the infection to clear more quickly by removing the phlegm from your lungs.
If you visit your GP regarding a chest infection, they will only prescribe antibiotics if your infection is caused by a bacterial infection.
If you currently have a chest infection and are experiencing symptoms that are not clearing up, book an appointment with us today. We are based in Swinton near Manchester.