Private Chest Infection Treatment
What is a Chest Infection?
A chest infection is a respiratory infection that affects the lower section of the respiratory tract, which includes the lungs, bronchi and windpipe. The two main types of chest infection are; pneumonia and bronchitis.
While many chest infections resolve in around a week, bacterial chest infections require treatment with antibiotics. Severe chest infections may necessitate hospital treatment.
Symptoms of a Chest Infection
Chest infection symptoms can range from mild to severe. Among the most common chest infection symptoms are; wheezing; a chesty, wet cough; shortness of breath; coughing up green or yellow mucus; headache; fever; discomfort or pain in the chest; fatigue; and muscle pain or aches.
Causes of a chest infection
Chest infections can be either bacterial or viral, and this will determine the cause. In general, pneumonia is caused by bacterial, whereas bronchitis is caused by a virus.
Chest infections can be caught by inhaling respiratory droplets when a person with an infection sneezes or coughs. The condition can also be developed after touching a surface which is contaminated with bacteria or the virus, and then touching the face or mouth.
There are certain people who may be more likely to develop a chest infection, such as; pregnant women; the elderly; babies and young children; those with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD); those with a weakened immune system; and smokers.
Treatment options for Chest Infections
In making a diagnosis of a chest infection, the doctor will usually perform a physical examination and assess any symptoms which you may have. They will typically use a stethoscope to listen to your lungs and heart as you breathe. A chest x-ray may be used to confirm the severity and location of the infection. A blood or sputum sample is sometimes used to assess the cause of the infection or determine which antibiotics should be used (in the case of a bacterial infection).
There are several remedies which can be effective in treating a chest infection, including; over the counter medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen; over the counter decongestants; drinking lots of fluids; elevating head and chest while sleeping; using a humidifier; taking warm drinks such as hot water with honey and lemon, and stopping smoking.
Bacterial chest infections are treated with antibiotics, and these are usually taken in the form of tablets which can be taken at home. It is important that you complete the full course of antibiotics, even once symptoms begin to ease. Viral chest infections are not treated by antibiotics, and treatment is based around easing symptoms until you start to get better.
There are several ways in which you can help to prevent chest infections, including by; keeping to a healthy diet which maintains your immune system and makes you less vulnerable to infections; regularly washing your hands, especially before eating; getting vaccinated for infections such as influenza and pneumonia; reducing the amount of alcohol which you drink; and reducing the amount which you smoke.