We all know the saying, rather safe than sorry, especially with something as serious as a chest infection.
We’re not saying to go to the doctor if you’re just feeling a bit sick, but when you experience serious symptoms of a chest infection, it is best to visit Dr. Lawrence Schmetterer – an experienced thoracic surgeon and our team of professionals for your chest infection treatment in Youngstown, Ohio.
So let’s define a chest infection. It is an infection that affects your lower large airways and your lungs. Pneumonia and bronchitis are the most common chest infections.
Bronchitis is usually caused by a viral infection and pneumonia is usually due to a bacterial infection. Pneumonia may be serious and need hospital admission.
Who Gets a Chest Infection?
It’s very common, especially during autumn and winter. They often occur after a cold or the flu. Anyone can get a chest infection, but they are more common in:
- Young children and the elderly.
- People who smoke.
- Pregnant women.
- People with long-term chest problems such as asthma, COPD, cystic fibrosis, heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, or liver disease.
Symptoms Of a Chest Infection
- A chesty cough.
- Breathing difficulties (including shortness of breath and wheezing).
- Chest pain or tightness.
- High temperature.
- Muscle aches and pains.
- Feeling very tired.
- A rapid heartbeat.
A cold – often called upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) – usually starts with a combination of blocked and/or runny nose and sneezing, sometimes with a mild high temperature.
You will usually get a cough, which is often dry and harsh but can also sound like you have a lot of phlegm, which you may bring up.
You may also feel tired and achy, but these chest infection symptoms are usually fairly mild and you’ll be able to keep going with everyday activities.
Chest infections can start with these symptoms too, but you don’t need to see a doctor if these are the only symptoms you have.
The only exceptions are people with long-term health conditions affecting the lungs, like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and bronchiectasis. People with these conditions are more likely to develop serious complications.
How Exactly is a Chest Infection Diagnosed?
Dr. Schmetterer will be able to make a diagnosis of a chest infection by listening to you and examining you. He will ask about your symptoms and how you are feeling.
He may also ask about your medical history and that of your family. He will be interested to know whether you smoke, how much, and for how long.
The examination may include checking your temperature. Sometimes Dr. Schmetterer will check how much oxygen is circulating around your body. This is done with a small device that sits at the end of your finger.
Often no tests are needed if you have an infection of the large airways in the lungs and your symptoms are mild.
By now you’re probably wondering what causes a chest infection. The vast majority of URTIs are caused by viral infections. Your immune system will fight these off without any help within a few days. Because URTIs are caused by viruses rather than bacteria, antibiotics won’t help in any way.
What Can You Do To Treat Your Chest Infection?
- Have plenty of rest.
- Drink lots of fluid to prevent your body from dehydrating and to help keep the mucus in your lungs thin and easier to cough up.
- Inhale steam vapor, perhaps with added menthol. This can help to clear the mucus from your chest. Never use hot water for a child’s cough, in case they get scalded by accident.
- Avoid lying flat at night to help keep your chest clear of mucus and make it easier to breathe.
- Take medication; paracetamol, ibuprofen, or aspirin to reduce high temperature and to ease any aches and pains that you might experience.
- We can’t stress this enough – if you smoke, try your best to quit for good. Bronchitis, chest infections, and lung diseases are more common in smokers.
- If your throat is sore from coughing, you can relieve the discomfort with a warm drink of honey and lemon.
Now, the big question is –
When Should You See a Doctor?
Infection of the large airways (bronchi) in the lungs usually gets better by itself, so there is often no need to see a doctor. If you have asthma or COPD you should take Dr. Schmetterer’s advice. He might give you recommendations about increasing your inhaler’s medication or taking antibiotics at the first sign of an infection.
There are a number of chest infection symptoms that mean you should see a doctor even if you do not have any lung problems. If your symptoms get worse, you should look out for these warning signs. They include:
- If a fever, wheezing, or headache becomes worse or more severe.
- If you develop fast breathing, shortness of breath, or chest pains.
- If you cough up blood or if your phlegm becomes dark or rusty-colored.
- If you become drowsy or confused.
- If a cough lasts longer than 3 to 4 weeks.
- If you have repeated bouts of acute bronchitis.
- If any other symptom develops that you are concerned about.
How Can You Prevent a Chest Infection From Happening?
There are measures you can take to help prevent a chest infection and to stop the spread of it to others. For instance, washing your hands regularly reduces the chance of germs getting into your system.
You can pass a chest infection on to somebody through coughing and sneezing. So, if you have a chest infection it’s important to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and to wash your hands regularly.
For Expert Treatment & Compassionate Care, Consider Visiting Dr. Schmetterer Lawrence – A Leading Thoracic Surgeon in Youngstown Ohio
If you are looking for a chest infection specialist in Youngstown Ohio, entrust your health to the capable hands of Dr. Schmetterer Lawrence! With his expertise and years of experience, he can help give you relief from this difficult medical condition. Reach out today to learn more about what treatment options are available for you!
Get the care you need today!