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Chest Infection: Reasons and Remedial Measures

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A chest infection is an infection of the lungs and respiratory tract. It causes inflammation in airways and pus formation in alveoli. Chest infection is very common these days. We see every other person coughing, sneezing, or, showing other symptoms of chest infection. 

What is the reason behind it?

 The enormous progress in science has made our lives easier and more luxurious. But if, on one hand, these stupendous inventions have brought us many advantages, on the other hand, the same inventions have some bleak outcomes on our health and environment. Chest and Sinus infections are also one of those side effects.

Toxic smoke from vehicles and factories pollute our environment to such a great extent that our respiratory tracts fail to filter that pollution. Deforestation all around the world is also adding up to this poison. Green plants and trees are the lifesavers for us and our environment. But we are killing them for decades. Plants can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the air. They regulate oxygen supply in the atmosphere. But no thanks to the insatiable desire of implanting new factories and industrial units everywhere, we are losing these benefits.

Types of Chest Infection

There are two common types of chest infection

  • Bronchitis
  • Pneumonia 

Causes of Chest Infection

No doubt, environmental pollution is a big threat to our respiratory health but there are other serious causes of chest infection

Viral Chest Infection

The most common reason behind a chest infection is a virus. A viral chest infection is called bronchitis. This is an infection of bronchi. Bronchi are inflamed and irritated in this type of infection. Symptoms may include

  • Cough with phlegm
  • Sore throat 
  • Wheezing
  • Mild to high fever

Keep in mind that each body has a unique immune system. And each immune system reacts differently to the same virus. These symptoms may differ in different people. Patients may experience the same symptoms with lower or higher severity or may or may not have a few of them.

Viral infections are highly contagious. And you can easily get affected or become a source of transmission. Therefore, it is necessary that you take all the precautionary steps to avoid the spread.

You may also like to read is sinus infection contagious

Treatment

Medication 

Take over the counter medications such as decongestants, ibuprofens, and expectorants. These medicines help to loosen mucus and control pain and fever. 

Home Remedies

Many home remedies are proven to be very effective in relieving pain and discomfort caused by viral chest and throat infection. Some effective home remedies include

  • Herbal teas (ginger tea, lemongrass tea, cinnamon tea, thyme, and tea tree)
  • Honey in warm water
  • Vitamin C (lemon and oranges)
  • Steam inhalation
  • Staying hydrated
  • Clear soups
  • Chest packs

Bacterial Chest Infection

Pneumonia is the type of chest infection that is usually caused by a bacterium called Streptococcus pneumoniae. But it can also be caused by a virus.

Common Symptoms of Pneumonia

  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Loss of appetite
  • Chest pain
  • Vomiting or nausea

Young children and older people are at higher risk of getting this infection.

Treatment

Medication

Bacterial infections are usually treated with antibiotics. Mild bacterial infections get cured by taking antibiotic tablets or syrups at home. But if the infection is severe you might need an IV antibiotic for its treatment. You should always complete your antibiotic course even if you start feeling better soon after the initial dose.

Home remedies

Bacterial infections need to be treated with antibiotics and home remedies are usually not very effective in treating this type of infection. But still, you should be careful about your eating habits while you are suffering from a bacterial infection. Eating or drinking cold and sour food and drinks may increase the inflammation in the throat. Using certain home remedies like herbal teas, clear stock, etc may help you recover faster with the antibiotics. Home remedies can also help you relieve throat pain, blocked nose, itchy and watery eyes, etc.

Fungal Chest Infection

Aspergillosis is the type of lung infection that is caused by one or more fungi.

Symptoms

  • Cough with sputum or blood in severe cases
  • Breathlessness
  • High fever
  • Short breath
  • Weakness
  • Constant cough

Treatment

Medication 

Fungal infections commonly treated with anti-fungal drugs. Most commonly used medicines are

  • Posaconazole
  • Azaconazoles
  • Voriconazole
  • Itraconazole 

Some types of fungal infections need to be treated with amphotericin B or your doctor may prescribe you a combination of drugs.

Surgery

Sometimes fungi do not respond to medicines. Patients start coughing blood in severe cases. And fungi balls need to be removed surgically.

Diagnosis

Your doctor may ask you to have either one or all of the following tests to diagnose your disease

  • Blood sample tests
  • Chest X-Ray
  • Phlegm sample test

Symptoms of Chest Infection

Symptoms of chest infection may vary depending upon the severity, cause, and type of infection.

  • Persistent cough
  • Mild to high fever depending upon the severity of the disease
  • Chest pain
  • Breathlessness
  • Coughing up phlegm and mucus
  • Sore throat
  • Blocked nose
  • Wheezing
  • Feeling weakness
  • Headache 

How long can a chest infection last?

Depending upon the severity and cause of your disease your chest infection may last for 1 to 3 weeks.

Precautions

Precaution is always better than cure. If you want to save yourself from bearing all the pains and irritation that a chest infection may cause, you should try to follow these precautionary measures.

  • Cleanliness is the key to health, make sure that your hands are always clean especially before eating or drinking.
  • Smoking and alcohol consumption can trigger mucus formation around your respiratory tract. Moreover, tobacco, smoke, and intoxicating effects of alcohol may cause inflammation in your lungs and trachea. You should reduce alcohol consumption and control your smoking habit to avoid frequent chest infection. 
  • A healthy diet improves your immunity and strengthens your gut to fight against most virus and bacteria. Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables. This will reduce your susceptibility to infection.
  • Vaccinations keep you safe from reaching to a severe stage of the disease. Vaccines for influenza and pneumonia are available in the medical industry. Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine protects from 13 different types of bacteria that are the most common cause of chest infections in children and adults.
  • Use humidifiers and air purifiers. Pollution in air is the main cause of many allergies. These allergies if last long may lead to congested chest and other respiratory problems. Humidifiers and air purifiers keep the air humid and clean by filtering most of the allergens present around us. Their regular use reduces the risk of frequent allergic reactions.

How can you help yourself at home

  • Drink a lot of water
  • Take plenty of rest
  • Take painkillers, expectorants, and decongestants.
  • Try some effective home remedies
  • Sleep with your head high to help the mucus out

You may also like to read how to get rid of chest congestion

When to visit your Doctor

Your chest infection will likely go away by itself. Because most chest infections are caused by viruses. And our immune system can fight back most viruses. But if your condition lasts longer than a week, you have a high fever that doesn’t get down with over the counter medicines, if you feel heavy breathing or pain in the chest you should consult your doctor for advice. Your health care provider may suggest you have some laboratory diagnosis to find out the cause of your disease. Once it is diagnosed the doctor will begin the treatment accordingly.

 

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