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 also.
Chest infections often follow colds or flu.
The main symptoms are:
*a chesty cough – you may cough up green or yellow mucus
*wheezing and shortness of breath
*chest pain or discomfort
*a midium or even high temperature
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.
Many germs can cause chest infection. The most common are bacteria and viruses in the air we breathe. Your body usually prevents these germs from infecting your lungs. But sometimes these germs can overpower your immune system, even if your health is generally good.
Chest infection is classified according to the types of germs that cause it and where you got the infection.
Community-acquired Chest infection:
Community-acquired chest infection is the most common type. It occurs outside of hospitals or other health care facilities. It may be caused by:
*Bacteria. The most common cause of bacterial pneumonia in the U.S. is Streptococcus pneumoniae. This type of pneumonia can occur on its own or after you’ve had a cold or the flu. It may affect one part (lobe) of the lung, a condition called lobar pneumonia.
*Bacteria-like organisms. Mycoplasma pneumoniae also can cause pneumonia. It typically produces milder symptoms than do other types of pneumonia. Walking pneumonia is an informal name given to this type of pneumonia, which typically isn’t severe enough to require bed rest.
*Fungi. This type of pneumonia is most common in people with chronic health problems or weakened immune systems, and in people who have inhaled large doses of the organisms. The fungi that cause it can be found in soil or bird droppings and vary depending upon geographic location.
*Viruses, including COVID-19. Some of the viruses that cause colds and the flu can cause pneumonia. Viruses are the most common cause of pneumonia in children younger than 5 years. Viral chest infection is usually mild. But in some cases it can become very serious. Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) may cause chest infection, which can become severe.
*Hospital-acquired chest infection
Some people catch chest infection during a hospital stay for another illness. Hospital-acquired pneumonia can be serious because the bacteria causing it may be more resistant to antibiotics and because the people who get it are already sick. People who are on breathing machines (ventilators), often used in intensive care units, are at higher risk of this type of pneumonia.
Health care-acquired chest infection
Health care-acquired pneumonia is a bacterial infection that occurs in people who live in long-term care facilities or who receive care in outpatient clinics, including kidney dialysis centers. Like hospital-acquired pneumonia, health care-acquired pneumonia can be caused by bacteria that are more resistant to antibiotics.
*Aspiration chest infection:
Aspiration chest infection occurs when you inhale food, drink, vomit or saliva into your lungs. Aspiration is more likely if something disturbs your normal gag reflex, such as a brain injury or swallowing problem, or excessive use of alcohol or drugs.
Chest infection can affect anyone. But the two age groups at highest risk are:
*Children who are 2 years old or younger
*People who are age 65 or older
Other risk factors include:
*Being hospitalized. You’re at greater risk of pneumonia if you’re in a hospital intensive care unit, especially if you’re on a machine that helps you breathe (a ventilator).
*Chronic disease. You’re more likely to get pneumonia if you have asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or heart disease.
*Smoking. Smoking damages your body’s natural defenses against the bacteria and viruses that cause pneumonia.
*Weakened or suppressed immune system. People who have HIV/AIDS, who’ve had an organ transplant, or who receive chemotherapy or long-term steroids are at risk.
Even with treatment, some people with pneumonia, especially those in high-risk groups, may experience complications, including:
*Bacteria in the bloodstream (bacteremia). Bacteria that enter the bloodstream from your lungs can spread the infection to other organs, potentially causing organ failure.
*Difficulty breathing. If your pneumonia is severe or you have chronic underlying lung diseases, you may have trouble breathing in enough oxygen. You may need to be hospitalized and use a breathing machine (ventilator) while your lung heals.
*Fluid accumulation around the lungs (pleural effusion). Pneumonia may cause fluid to build up in the thin space between layers of tissue that line the lungs and chest cavity (pleura). If the fluid becomes infected, you may need to have it drained through a chest tube or removed with surgery.
*Lung abscess. An abscess occurs if pus forms in a cavity in the lung. An abscess is usually treated with antibiotics. Sometimes, surgery or drainage with a long needle or tube placed into the abscess is needed to remove the pus.
To help prevent pneumonia:
Get vaccinated. Vaccines are available to prevent some types of pneumonia and the flu. Talk with your doctor about getting these shots. The vaccination guidelines have changed over time so make sure to review your vaccination status with your doctor even if you recall
previously receiving a pneumonia vaccine.
Make sure children get vaccinated. Doctors recommend a different pneumonia vaccine for children younger than age 2 and for children ages 2 to 5 years who are at particular risk of pneumococcal disease. Children who attend a group child care center should also get the vaccine.
Doctors also recommend flu shots for children older than 6 months.
Practice good hygiene. To protect yourself against respiratory infections that sometimes lead to pneumonia, wash your hands regularly or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Don’t smoke. Smoking damages your lungs’ natural defenses against respiratory infections.
Keep your immune system strong. Get enough sleep, exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet.
Things you can do yourself
*get plenty of rest.
*drink lots of water to loosen the mucus and make it easier to cough up.
*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.
Normally Antibiotics aren’t recommended for many chest infections. They only work if the infection is caused by bacteria, rather than a virus. Your GP will usually only prescribe antibiotics if they think you have pneumonia, or you’re at risk of complications such as fluid building up around the lungs (pleurisy).
Home remedies for chest infection:
These home remedies may help ease the symptoms of your chest infection. Try these tips:
Take OTC medications such as ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) to lower your fever and help relieve any aches and pains.
*Use OTC decongestants or expectorants to help loosen mucus and make it easier to cough up.
*Be sure to get plenty of rest.
*Drink lots of fluids. This keeps you hydrated and can loosen mucus, making it easier to cough up.
*Avoid lying flat when sleeping. This can cause mucus to settle in your chest. Use extra pillows to elevate your head and chest at night.
*Use a humidifier or inhale steam vapor to help relieve coughing.
*Have a warm drink of honey and lemon if your throat is sore from too much coughing.
*Avoid smoking, or being around secondhand smoke or other irritants.
*Stay away from cough suppression medicines. Coughing actually helps you to get over your infection through clearing mucus from your lungs.
*inhaling steam from a warm bath.
*inhaling the vapor from essential oils, such as rosemary or eucalyptus.
*Boil 1/2 cup of ginzer dust in one cup of water till it becomes one cup, drink one sip in every hour for the whole day.
Although most chest infections are mild and improve on their own, some cases can be very serious, even life-threatening. A bout of infection of the large airways (bronchi) in the lungs (acute bronchitis) usually gets better on its own within 7-10 days without any medicines.
Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.