Chest Infections: Symptoms and Treatment options

By Jenny Wilson June 8, 2021 in Health

A chest infection is a fatal yet prevalent infection that will affect your lungs, either in bronchitis or pneumonia. There will be a build-up of pus and fluid in the lungs, and the airways will become swollen, making breathing difficult.

Most chest infections are mild and may respond well to home remedies and medications. There are also some preventative measures that people can take to avoid chest infections. However, some chest infections can be severe, and you may require extensive medical attention.

Chest Infections

Here, we will learn about causes, symptoms, and treatment options to treat chest infections.

Table of Contents

  • What are the types of Chest Infections?
  • What causes Chest Infection?
  • What are Chest Infection symptoms?
  • What are the Chest Infection treatment options available?
  • How can you prevent chest infections?
  • When to see a doctor?

What are the Types of Chest Infections?

There are several types of chest infections such as:


This chest infection is one of the most common among people. Bronchitis is one of the most common chest infections. When there is an infection in significant airways to the lungs, you will be suffering from bronchitis in the bronchi.

Chest Infections

Various institutes have indicated that infections that result from viruses, including the common cold and flu, are the most common cause of acute bronchitis. Sometimes, bacteria can cause acute bronchitis.


Pneumonia is a disease that occurs in the airways of our lungs. This will cause the air sacs to become inflamed and swell with fluid. It is pushing the air sacs to become inflamed and swell with fluid or pus. The most common pneumonia is bacterial and viral pneumonia, although many more germs can also cause this disease.

When a sick person sneezes or breathes out germs into the air, another person can inhale those particles. This may lead to pneumonia to the person who has inhaled the germs through the air.


Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria are responsible for causing tuberculosis (TB)and can happen in the lungs or airways. Due to the vaccine, TB has become a rare disease. Various medical institutions have stated that it is not easy to get TB infections. However, if you don’t TB on time, then it can prove to be fatal. If the affected person receives prompt and effective treatment, then it can be cured without any complications.

What Causes Chest Infection?

Bacteria or viruses can cause chest infection. It is hard to decide the exact cause of chest infection as it will be depended on the type of infection. For instance, bronchitis is caused by a virus, while bacteria are responsible for pneumonia.

You can also catch a chest infection when you inhale the respiratory droplets of an infected person. That is because these droplets often carry the virus or bacteria of the condition.

Additionally, you can get this infection when you contact a surface contaminated with a similar virus or bacteria. When you touch the surface and then touch your mouth or face, the bacteria will enter your body, and that will leave you with infections.

Chest Infections

You may be more prone to chest infection if you:

  • Are old
  • Are pregnant
  • Are a baby or young child
  • Have a habit of smoking
  • Have a such as asthma or diabetes
  • Have a weak immune system because of severe conditions such as HIV or from the recipient of an organ transplant

Read More: 15 Home Remedies for Asthma – Cure Asthma Naturally

What are Chest Infection Symptoms?

The symptoms will start with a cold, an upper respiratory tract infection (URTI). You will have blocked or runny nose and sneezing problems combined with a mild high fever sometimes.

The cough will be your daily problem, and it will be dry and harsh. However, it can sound like you have a lot of phlegm. You may feel tiredness and dull pain throughout the day, but these symptoms will be mild. So, you will be able to perform your daily activities.

These same symptoms can happen at the beginning of a chest infection. If you have only these symptoms, you need not visit a doctor as it can be a regular seasonal flu and can be treated with home remedies. However, suppose you are someone with long-term health conditions affecting the lungs, like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and bronchiectasis. In that case, it is advisable to visit the doctor if the symptoms stay for more than 2 or 3 weeks.

People with chronic lung disease can develop serious complications. Some of the chest infection symptoms include:

  • Wet or phlegmy cough
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing up yellow or green mucus
  • Shortness of breath
  • Discomfort in your chest
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Feeling tired or fatigued.

What are the Chest Infection Treatment Options available?

If you have a chest infection due to a virus, there is no point in using antibiotics, as they won’t be effective. Instead, focus on easing up your symptoms until you feel better. And if you have a bacterial chest infection, then you will be treated with the help of antibiotics.

If you are suffering from a mild chest infection, then take a table at home. In case of a severe bacterial chest infection, you may need to get IV antibiotics from the hospital. Also, don’t leave the antibiotics course midway just because you feel better.

Medical Treatment

In most cases, viral sources are the reasons for a chest infection, and this type of infection doesn’t require any prescription medical treatment. Doctors will prescribe you over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, such as ibuprofen or a cough and cold medication to ease symptoms.

With the help of antibiotics, most bacterial infections can be cleared. At the same time, At the same time, antiviral medications will help you deal with viral chest infections or for people at higher risk of complications: young children, older people, and cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

If someone is suffering from a severe case, then that person may need to be hospitalized and get intravenous fluid hydration and antimicrobial treatment.

Home Remedies

What follows are some of the home remedies that can help you ease the symptoms of your chest infection:

    • OTC medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help you lower your fever and help relieve any aches and pains.
    • OTC medicines can help to loosen up the mucus and make it easier to cough up.
    • Be sure to get plenty of rest.
    • Drink lots of fluids.
    • Avoid lying flat when sleeping. Lying flat will let the mucus settle in your chest.
    • Buy a good humidifier, or you inhale vapor to get relief from coughing.
    • Make a drink consist of warm honey and lemon to soothe your sore throat.
    • Stop smoking or being around a smoker.
    • Stay away from cough suppression medicines, as coughing can help you get rid of the infection by clearing mucus from your lungs.

Read More: Some Proven Home Remedies For Chest Congestion Relief

How can you prevent chest infections?

Chest infection is more common in the winter season. Here are some tips that can help you prevent chest infections and help you avoid colds or the flu. These tips consist of:

  • Wash and make sure your hand is clean before you eat or touch your face or mouth.
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet as it will help you fight the disease and boost your immunity.
  • Do not delay in getting the vaccination. This infection can develop into influenza, for which you can opt for the seasonal vaccine.
  • Avoid smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Reduce the amount of alcohol that you consume.
  • If you’re already suffering from diseases, then make sure you wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth while you sneeze, and dispose of used tissues properly.

When to see a doctor?

Most chest infections will clear up automatically without requiring any treatment. If the symptoms don’t go away in 2 to 3 weeks and you have a particularly severe illness, it may be the time to visit a doctor.

What follows are some of the symptoms that indicate it is better to see a doctor:

  • Coughing up blood or bloody mucus
  • Symptoms that get worse over time
  • Shortness of breath
  • A fever over 100.4ºF (38ºC)

If you are in the below-mentioned category, then you are more at risk of complications and should see a doctor for any chest infection as soon as possible:

  • Are over the age of 65
  • Are under the age of 5
  • Are pregnant
  • Have a weak immune system due to ongoing chemotherapy or HIV

A physical exam may be necessary to test for types of infections. Doctors may need to take a sample of the person’s sputum to help them determine the best treatment.

You may need to undergo some more tests, such as plain x-rays of the chest, to know all about your chest infections.

Final Words

Chest infections are one of the prevalent diseases and may come after battling with cold or flu. Usually, the body will clear the infection by itself in a week or two. However, some people may have lingering symptoms for a few weeks as mucus clears out of the lungs.


Jenny Wilson

16 articles by Jenny Wilson | View Author Profile

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