Taking sick time isn't easy, but you don't want to spread your illness or infect your co-workers if you're contagious. Many times patients suspect that they just have a cold, and wait it out. Contact with contaminated surfaces, food, and water. Others can be severe and life-threatening. Avoid smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke. We include products we think are useful for our readers. They can range from mild to severe. A chest infection is an infection that affects your lungs, either in the larger airways (bronchitis) or in the smaller air sacs (pneumonia). The next…. Send thanks to the doctor 90,000 U.S. doctors in 147 specialties are here to answer your questions or offer you advice, prescriptions, and more. A: A fever usually means you have an infection but it doesn't tell you if it's bacterial or viral. Pneumonia and bronchitis are the most common chest infections. The doctor may take a chest X-ray to determine the location and severity of your infection. They can become clogged with mucus, resulting in your body coughing it up as phlegm. A pharmacist may be able to help you by recommending over-the-counter (OTC) decongestant medications to help loosen any mucus in your chest, which will make it easier to cough up. Bacterial infections can be treated with an antibiotic. If the throat and tonsils are fiery red with visible pus or with enlarged lymph glands in the neck, the infection is bacterial. They can be caused by any of a large number of viral agents, including but not limited to: RNA viruses. Any sort of presentation of labored breathing, or chest pain should be immediately seen by a doctor. Contact with infected people, especially through kissing and sex. Our website services, content, and products are for informational purposes only. If you’re already ill, wash your hands frequently and be sure to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. How long does it take to recover from a chest infection? © 2017-2020 SmartDocMD. Sometimes, a case of bronchitis can lead to pneumonia in some individuals. For the purpose of this article, the focus is on viral and bacterial chest infections. Both viral and bacterial infections are spread in similar ways: Coughing and sneezing. Sometimes phlegm can become thick and bothersome. Bacterial infections may not present with a fever, or if they do, it’s much later, after other symptoms have presented first. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. This is a good rule of thumb unless you have some serious symptoms that are bothering you. You may be at an increased risk for a chest infection if you: In some cases, a chest infection, such as acute bronchitis, will go away on its own and you won’t have to see a doctor. Additionally, coming into contact with a surface that’s contaminated with the virus or bacteria, and then touching your mouth or face can also spread the infection. Pneumonia is usually due to bacterial infection. This is often observed in common cold which causes an overload of the fluid in the sinuses. Take OTC medications such as ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) to lower your fever and help relieve any aches and pains. All Rights Reserved. Viral germs are spread easily from one person to another when infected people cough, sneeze, touch their nose, or rub their eyes, and distribute tiny droplets of the virus to surfaces or the air. You can speak to a doctor swiftly online using our platform. Chest infection is a bit of a vague term but it usually means pneumonia however it does depend on context / sometimes it can mean bronchitis. They can range from mild to severe. Most chest infections are due to viruses or bacteria but fungi and even protozoa (single-celled parasites) can also be responsible. See your doctor if your symptoms haven’t improved or have gotten worse in this time. It is often thought that bacterial chest infections are more severe. Use extra pillows to elevate your head and chest at night. Healthline Media does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. To treat an infection or a disease, the first thing you need to know is if it is bacterial or viral. If your chest infection is caused by a virus, antibiotics won’t be effective. There is a build-up of pus and fluid (mucus), and the airways become swollen, making it difficult for you to breathe. Pathology. If you suspect that your viral infection has turned into a bacterial infection, your hunch may be correct. Chest tightness and the presence of a fever are signs that a bacterial infection may be present. The possible complications from a chest infection like pneumonia can include: You can help prevent chest infections by following the tips below: Chest infections can be caused by a viral or bacterial infection in your lower respiratory tract. Try these tips: Most chest infection symptoms typically go away within 7 to 10 days, although a cough can last up to three weeks. When to seek help from a healthcare provider. Get vaccinated. The viral infection may go away in the affected individual but the congestion in the chest that it causes leads to the production of mucous which provides a breeding ground for bacterial infections. When someone takes a breath through their nose or mouth, the air travels into the larynx. Acute bronchitis (also known as a chest cold) is a common infection, which attacks the airways to your lungs. Eat a healthy well-balanced diet. Chest infections can be caused by a viral or bacterial infection in your lower respiratory tract. Hello. Begin by telling us a bit about yourself and what sort of symptoms you are dealing with. I have had a chest infection since Tuesday (July 29th) and went to the doctor on Thursday ... cough viral or bacterial cause viral I read antibiotics wont work. 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