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Disease prevention and treatment

Some symptoms and treatments of chest infections

Photo credit: Gettyimages

According to NHS, 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.

Check if you have a chest infection

Chest infections often follow colds or flu.

The main symptoms are:

1. a chesty cough, you may cough up green or yellow mucus

2. wheezing and shortness of breath

3. chest pain or discomfort

4. a high temperature

5. a headache

6. aching muscles

7. 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.

Things you can do yourself

If you have a chest infection:


1. get plenty of rest

2. drink lots of water to loosen the mucus and make it easier to cough up

3. raise your head up while sleeping using extra pillows to make breathing easier and clear your chest of mucus

4. use painkillers to bring down a fever and ease headaches and muscle pain

5. drink a hot lemon and honey drink to relieve a sore throat

5. try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people if you have a high temperature or do not feel well enough to do your normal activities.


1. do not let children breathe in steam from a bowl of hot water because of the risk of scalding

2. do not give aspirin to children under 16

3. do not take cough medicines, there's little evidence to show they help

4. do not smoke, it can make your symptoms worse.

You can ask a pharmacist about: decongestants to loosen the mucus in your lungs, this will make it easier to cough up and help clear the infection from your lungs.

Treatment from a doctor

Treatment will depend on the cause of your chest infection.

It will either be caused by:

1. a virus (like viral bronchitis), this usually clears up by itself after a few weeks and antibiotics will not help

2. bacteria (like pneumonia), a doctor may prescribe antibiotics (make sure you complete the whole course as advised by the doctor, 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, like flu or viral bronchitis. This is because antibiotics do not work for viral infections.

A sample of your mucus may need to be tested to see what's causing your chest infection.

Content created and supplied by: Kwajaffa (via Opera News )


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