Chest infection are common , especially .after a cold or flu during and winter .
Although most are mild and get better or their own , some can be serious or even life threatening .
Signs and symptoms of a chest infection
The main symptoms of a chest infection can include :
â€¢ A persistent cough .
â€¢ Coughing up. Yellow or green phlegm (thick mucus ) or coughing up. blood
â€¢ Breathlessness or rapid and shallow breathing .
â€¢ Wheezing .
â€¢ A high temperature ( fever).
â€¢ A rapid heartbeat .
â€¢ Chest pain or tightness.
â€¢ Feeling confused and disorientated .
Children may also experience more general symptoms of an infection such as a headache , Fatigue ,sweating .loss of appetite or joint and muscle pain
What causes Chest infection ?
A chest infection is an infection of the lungs or airways . The main types of chest infection are broncholitis and pneumonia .
Most bronchiolitis cases are caused by viruses Where as most pneumonia cases are due to bacteria .
These infection are usually spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes . This launches tiny droplets of fluid containing the virus or bacteria in to the air ,where can be breathed in by others . The infection can also be spread to others if you cough or sneeze on to your hand , an object
Many chest infection arenâ€™t serious and get better with a few days or weeks .Most of the children well recover at home by :
â€¢ Getting plenty of rest
â€¢ Drinking lots of fluid to prevent
â€¢ Treating headaches ,fever and aches and pains with painkillers- such as paracetamol or ibuprofen
â€¢ Drinking a warm drink of honey and lemon â€“ to relieve a sore throat caused by persistent coughing
â€¢ Using an air humidifier or inhaling steam from a bowl of hot water
Avoid cough medicines ,as there â€˜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 arenâ€™t recommended for many chest infections , because they only work if the infection is caused by bacteria , rather than a virus .
If thereâ€™s a flu outbreak in your local area and youâ€™re at risk of serious infection .
When to see a doctor
â€¢ Child is feeling very unwell or his symptoms are severe
â€¢ If symptoms are not improving
â€¢ Feel confused ,disoriented or drowsy
â€¢ Have chest pain or difficulty breathing
â€¢ Cough up blood or blood stained phlegm
Doctor should be able to diagnose you based on your symptoms and by listening to your chest using a in some cases , further tests â€“such as a chest X-ray , blood samples may be necessary.
Preventing chest infections
â€¢ Good hygiene
â€¢ Itâ€™s important to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and to wash you hand regularly . Put tissues in the bin immediately .
â€¢ Flu and pneumococcal vaccination are usually recommended.
Blog by :-Dr. Seema Sharma
MBBS, MDÂ Paediatrics
Chaitanya Hospital Chandigarh