Chest infection, adult
A chest infection is an infection of the lungs or airways. The main types of chest infection are bronchitis and pneumonia .
Most bronchitis cases are caused by viruses, whereas most pneumonia cases are due to bacteria.
These infections are usually spreadwhen an infected person coughs or sneezes. This launches tiny droplets of fluid containing the virus or bacteria into the air, where they canbe breathed in by others.
The infections can alsobe spread to othersif you cough or sneeze onto your hand, an object or a surface, and someone else shakes your hand or touches those surfaces before touching their mouth or nose.
Certaingroups of people have a higher risk of developing serious chest infections, such as:
You won't usually need to see your GP, unless your symptoms suggest you have a more serious infection (see below).
While you recover at home, you canimprove your symptoms by:
Avoid cough medicines, as there's little evidence they work, and coughing actually helps you clear the infection more quickly by getting rid of the phlegm from your lungs.
Antibiotics aren't recommended for many chest infections, because 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 ).
If there's a flu outbreak in your local area and you're at risk of serious infection, your GP may also prescribe antiviral medication.
Smoking damages your lungs and weakens your defences against infection.
Put tissues in the bin immediately.
The risk to your health is increased by drinking any amount of alcohol on a regular basis.
Eating a healthy, balanceddiet can help strengthen the immune system, making you less vulnerable to developing chest infections.
Flu and pneumococcal vaccinations are usually recommended for:
and the pneumococcal vaccine .
Chest infections are common, especially after a cold or flu during autumn and winter. Although most are mild and get better on their own, some can be serious or even life-threatening.
The main symptoms of a chest infection can include: a persistent cough coughing up yellow or green phlegm (thick mucus), or coughing up blood breathlessness orrapid and shallow breathing wheezing a
A chest infection is an infection of the lungs or airways. The main types of chest infection are bronchitis and pneumonia . Most bronchitis cases are caused by viruses, whereas most pneumonia cases a