What Causes Chest Infections And How Can You Prevent Them?
Chest infections are common and can make it difficult to carry on with day-to-day life. If you want to know more about how you can help prevent getting chest infections and how to recognise symptoms when they occur, then keep reading. We are going to be covering everything you need to know about chest infections, the different types there are, and what treatments are available. Keep reading to learn more.
Signs Of A Chest Infection
When it comes to being aware of whether or not you may have a chest infection, you need to know the signs and symptoms to look out for. The most common indications of a chest infection include:
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing up phlegm that is green or yellow or contains spots of blood
- Crackling when breathing in and out
- Raised temperature or fever
If you have a chest infection, you may feel generally unwell and have symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, and drowsiness. Sometimes the symptoms of a chest infection can be similar to those of a cold or flu, such as nasal congestion, shivers, and lack of energy. You can also experience cramp-like pain in the muscles and joints.
Who Is Most At Risk Of Developing Chest Infections?
Although all types of people of at risk of catching chest infections at some point, certain people may be at a higher risk of catching one. For example, the elderly are at higher risk of developing a chest infection for a number of reasons. They are more likely to have weakened immune symptoms that make it easier for infections to enter the body and take hold. They are also more sensitive to environmental factors such as the cold, which can be a risk factor for chest infections such as pneumonia. Children can also be more likely to develop a chest infection as they are frequently in environments that are breeding grounds for infection and spreading them around. They are also more likely to struggle with practicing good hygiene, such as hand washing, making it more likely to catch infections.
Weakened Immune System
Anyone with a weakened immune system is more likely to catch and struggle with chest infections. This is because the body will find it more difficult to prioritise fighting the infection, which makes it easier to take hold. Common reasons for a weakened immune system include factors such as old age, illness, cancer treatment, pregnancy, and poor health. Although some of these factors can’t be helped, there are some ways in which you can reduce the opportunity for chest infections. Making sure you’re getting the right nutrition in your diet, exercising, and resting when ill are all ways you can help reduce the risk of getting a chest infection from a weakened immune system. You should also make sure you’re regularly washing your hands, especially when in public spaces.
Reduce Exposure To People
Chest infections can be spread easily from person to person from simple acts such as coughing, sneezing, or even talking to another person in close proximity. They can even spread through indirect contact, such as from touching surfaces, or even touching clothes and towels. Therefore, if you want to reduce your chances of getting a chest infection, you can reduce the level of exposure you have to people, especially when in public. If you know someone who has recently had a chest infection, then perhaps wait a while before meeting up with them to allow time for the infection to clear up. Making sure we’re all covering our mouths when coughing or sneezing and washing our hands afterward help to cut down the chances of spreading chest infections around to other people. If you do choose to meet up with people, then gathering in open, outdoor spaces makes it harder for the infection to travel from person to person. More compacted, warm, and poorly ventilated indoor spaces make it more likely that infections can thrive and spread.
Although covid-19 is a viral infection rather than a direct chest infection, it can severely impact the lungs and cause permanent damage. It can also make it more likely that chest infections such as pneumonia will have the opportunity to develop. If you develop covid-19, then it’s important you allow your body to rest, get plenty of nutrition and hydration, and avoid mixing with others to reduce your chances of not only spreading covid-19 but catching any other chest infections as you will be at higher risk from them. Both pneumonia and bronchitis are more likely to develop in those that have suffered from COVID-19.
It’s important to see your GP if you think you may have a chest infection so you can be professionally diagnosed and receive the correct treatment you require. However, you can do a few things to help relieve symptoms, such as taking a warm bath, breathing in steam from a hot bowl, and taking over-the-counter cough relief. Hot drinks such as lemon and honey can also help to soothe the throat from excessive coughing.