Chest Infections: Symptoms, Remedies & Recovery

Chest infections are on everyone’s mind lately, and not only because it’s the root problem at the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic. This type of infection runs rampant throughout the general population come wintertime each year, and if you struggle with it repeatedly it can impact your health and wellbeing in a very real way. 

Likewise, parents of children who are prone to chest infections are always on the lookout for ways to minimise the likelihood that their sprouts will get ill during winter. So let’s take a look at the symptoms and main causes of chest infections, and how you can get rid of it once you have it. 

How Do You Know If You Have A Chest Infection?

Most chest infections have a few symptoms in common, these include:

  • A cough that sounds wet or ‘chesty’ (i.e. not coming from the throat, but deeper down)

  • Wheezing and shortness of breath

  • In certain cases, a person may also cough up mucus that is yellow or green in colour

In addition, these symptoms are also associated with chest infections:

  • Fevers

  • Headaches

  • Fatigue

  • Muscle pain

Chest Infection Causes

First, let’s take a look at what causes chest infection. The two main kinds of chest infections are bronchitis and pneumonia.

Bronchitis can be caused by a virus or bacteria. However, viral bronchitis is the more common one, and is mostly caused by the same virus that gives us the flu or common cold. We are infected by other people who carry the virus when we inhale tiny droplets that leave their mouths or nose when they cough or sneeze. These droplets can spread by up to a metre from the person who expels it. When it lands on a surface, the virus can stay alive for up to 24h. 

Pneumonia is categorised as inflammation of the tissue in one or both lungs, which is  normally caused by a bacterial infection. This causes fluid to build up in the tiny air sacs in the lungs, which makes it hard to breathe. It is most commonly the result of infection by the Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria, although you also get viral, aspirational and fungal versions that are not related to this bacteria. 

How Do You Get Rid of A Chest Infection? 

Prevention is always better than cure. As such, the best thing you can do is to pave the way for a robust immune response by embracing all modes of immune support. This includes getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, staying hydrated, eating a balanced diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, and steering clear of bad habits like smoking and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. 

Other natural immune boosters include turmeric, ginger, licorice root, echinacea and ginseng. In fact, you can make yourself a little immune-boosting shot every morning by combining fresh orange juice with ginger, cinnamon, turmeric and other warming spices from your kitchen cabinet. It tastes great and gives your body a wonderful boost. 

This won’t, however, do you a lot of good if you’ve already got the chest infection, so let’s look at ways to help your body heal itself when you’ve already been diagnosed.

Here are a few home remedies and natural formulations for chest infections that you can add to your daily regime: 

  • Hydrate with warm fluids like boiled water, herbal tea, or broth to thin mucus and make it easier to ‘cough out’. 

  • Reduce congestion by inhaling steam over a large bowl of hot water with a towel draped over your head, or simply have a hot shower with the door closed. Drink a glass of water afterward to prevent dehydration. 

  • Gargle with salt water. 

  • Take a spoon of honey every four hours. 

  • Load up on ginger, garlic and lemon. 

  • Apply essential oils like eucalyptus and peppermint topically as a vapor rub by mixing it with coconut oil and applying it to the chest. 

  • Keep your head elevated while sleeping. 

  • Ease the symptoms of chest infections with honey & lemon throat lozenges and a soothing natural cough syrup

However, if your chest infection is very severe, and the symptoms thereof do not lessen after you’ve tried the above, it’s always best to go to your doctor, get diagnosed, listen to their recommendations and take the medicine prescribed. Your health is your wealth – don’t risk it unnecessarily. Heed medical advice, and get better soon!

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