What is a chest infection?
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 much more serious.
What are the symptoms?
The main symptoms are:
- a chesty cough. You may cough up green or yellow mucus
- wheezing and shortness of breath
- chest pain or discomfort
- a high temperature
- a headache
- aching muscles
How long could it last?
Symptoms of a chest infection will usually get better after 7-10 days, but it may take slightly longer for any coughs to clear.
When should I visit my GP practice?
You should get medical advice:
- if you get very unwell, or your symptoms get much worse
- if you are more vulnerable because of your age, health conditions or are pregnant
More information can be found here: NHS – Chest Infection
Do I need antibiotics?
Antibiotics are only used to treat bacterial chest infections (like pneumonia). If the chest infection is caused by a virus, it will usually clear on its own.
What treatment do I need?
Depending on the treatment recommended by your healthcare professional, there are some things you can do to help your recovery and feel better:
- get plenty of rest
- drink lots of water to loosen the mucus and make it easier to cough up
- raise your head up while sleeping with extra pillows. This will make breathing easier and clear your chest of mucus
- use painkillers to bring down a fever and ease headaches and muscle pain
- drink a hot lemon and honey drink to relieve a sore throat
- 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
- avoid smoking as it can make your symptoms worse
If you are ever worried that your symptoms might be something more severe then you can visit 111.nhs.uk or call NHS 111.