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Chest Infection

Overview
Overview

A chest infection is an illness that affects the lower part of the respiratory tract, which comprises the trachea, bronchi, and lungs. It occurs especially after a cold or flu.

Major reasons for chest infection include viruses and bacteria, and occasionally fungi. Chest infections spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. They can result in coughing, congestion, distended airways, dyspnea, fever, etc.

Although most chest infections are mild and get better with time, some can be severe. They affect people of all ages. However, children, pregnant women, the elderly, people with chronic health conditions, weakened immunity, and smokers are groups majorly at risk.

Chest infection: Symptoms and signs
Chest infection: Symptoms and signs

The symptoms and signs of a chest infection may be similar to those of a cold or flu, but they last longer. The severity depends on the patient’s age and overall health and whether the infection is caused by a virus or bacteria.

Some typical symptoms include:

Besides the above, patients may experience chest infection symptoms such as cephalalgia (headache), fatigue, diaphoresis (cold sweats), dehydration, loss of appetite, confusion, and disorientation or myalgia (muscle pains).

Common chest infection causes
Common chest infection causes

The most common chest infections are acute or chronic bronchitis and pneumonia. Infection in the alveoli is called pneumonia, whereas that in the bronchi is called bronchitis. Bronchitis is caused mainly due to viruses, as opposed to pneumonia which is caused due to bacteria.

Patients might develop a chest infection by breathing in (inhaling) the respiratory droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

They can also acquire the infection by coming into contact with a surface infected with the virus or bacteria and then touching their mouth or face.

Chest infection Test and Diagnosis
Chest infection Test and Diagnosis

To diagnose a chest infection, patients’ vitals and medical history is assessed. Additionally, their work, recent travels, or exposure to an infected person are also considered.

Then patient’s body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate and oxygen levels are checked. Lungs are further checked for crackling or wheezing sounds.

We don’t run tests if patients have an infection of the bronchi and their symptoms are mild. However, if the symptoms are severe, then it may be necessary to run a chest infection test. Some of the most recommend tests are as follows:

Chest infection treatment
Chest infection treatment

Viral chest infections resolve in a few weeks and mostly clear up on their own. For bacterial infections, patients need to consult our pulmonology specialists, who will prescribe a prognosis involving a course of antibiotics.

Most chest infection symptoms subside within 7 to 10 days, although a cough can last up to 3 weeks. In the meantime, patients can comfort themselves with a few self-care treatments:

For more severe and complicated chest infections, it is necessary to visit a hospital where patients may be given antibiotics, IV fluids, and different respiratory treatments as per their symptoms.

Chest infection prevention
Chest infection prevention

Chest infections are contagious; an infected person can pass them on to others through coughing and sneezing. Therefore, people must know a few measures to prevent and contain their spread.

While not all chest infections can be prevented, people can certainly minimize their risk:

Conclusion
Conclusion

At the CK Birla Hospital, we conduct thorough diagnosis and treatment of lung and chest infections. Our unit of pulmonologists provides holistic care to improve patients’ quality of life. We deliver rapid diagnoses followed by treatment of the underlying cause.

Our chest clinic under the department of pulmonology incorporates 24×7 emergency and critical care services and offers round-the-clock facilities like chest X-rays, CT scans, and other imaging tests. We offer secure and precision-driven procedures at par with international clinical protocols and safety norms.

We have pledged to transform healthcare in India with our empathetic and patient-led environment. Visit your nearest CK Birla Hospital or book an appointment with Dr Kuldeep Grover for rapid diagnosis and treatment of chest infections.

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