Chest cold is medically known as acute bronchitis. It occurs due to the swelling of the airways of the lungs which causes mucus production. That is the reason why you cough. This condition commonly lasts for 2 to 3 weeks and is the most common kind of bronchitis. People with chest colds are usually suffering from stuffy nose and other common cold symptoms. Chest Cold symptoms include fatigue and fever as well.
Chest Cold Symptoms
Acute bronchitis commonly alleviates on its own within 2 to 3 weeks of its occurrence. However, one of its symptoms, which is coughing, tends to stay longer than the others.
Chest colds primarily start with a dry cough, until it begins to produce plenty of mucus. Apart from cough, the symptoms for chest cold also include the following:
- Runny nose
- Aches and pain around the body
- Sore throat
In most cases, the individual might experience all the symptoms, for some, it’s just a combination of few signs of chest colds. You will feel uncomfortable for a few days and weeks but the symptoms will fade eventually. To help you feel better, you may opt to try over-the-counter medicines.
The main cause of acute bronchitis is a virus. It typically moves to a more serious stage where the viral infection takes place. When this happens, the symptoms will be accompanied by a common cold as well.
Other causes of chest colds are s follows:
- Bacterial infection. Bacteria can also cause chest colds. But it is important to remember that even though the condition is bacterial, antibiotics will not help at all.
- Irritants. The pollution around us also contributes to the occurrence of acute bronchitis. Irritants such as smoke, dust, pollen, and other things can irritate the airways in the lungs, and thus, start a chest cold. This is quite common for people with extreme sensitivity to pollutants.
If you experience chest colds, remember that the condition goes away on its own. However, you can remedy the discomfort with the help of the following:
- Get enough and plenty of sleep
- Keep yourself hydrated, drink a glass of water every hour if you can
- Use decongestants, you can buy these products from your local store
- Place a humidifier in your room
- Soothe your sore throat by using cough drops
- Drink a cup of honey lemon tea
These remedies are typically safe for adults. But if you are caring for an infant, it would be wiser to consult their pediatric doctor first before giving them any medication. You may also ask the pharmacist for instructions for children.
Aspirin and ibuprofen are also well known to be efficient in aiding fever in adults.
In recent studies, it has been proven that antibiotics cannot cure chest colds. As a matter of fact, specialists do not recommend its prescription regardless of the patient’s request. Taking antibiotics to treat chest colds might lead to mild and severe side effects, or worse, antibiotic resistance.
Seeking Professional Help
The illness can resolve itself and fade in just a few days. But if the following persist, it’s time to call your doctor:
- Very high fever that reaches 100.4 °F
- Dry cough accompanied by bloody mucus
- Difficulty breathing
- Several symptoms that last for more than 3 weeks
- Chest colds that keep coming back
These are just the common reasons why patients see a doctor. If other symptoms are getting worse than usual, you may opt to schedule a checkup.
Initially, your doctor will ask about your symptoms, how you feel, and when it started. Try to prepare this information before you go to the clinic so you can explain things better.
Afterwhich, your medical history will be assessed as well, if there’s any. The doctor will then proceed to a physical examination to check your vitals. He will examine your mouth, your temperature, and even the color of your eyes.
If you have a fever, you may be recommended to get an X-ray to check for other illnesses linked to chest colds. This is because sometimes, neglected acute bronchitis could lead to pneumonia.
Pneumonia often occurs in adults with a weak immune system and underlying lung conditions. To confirm your illness, the doctor might use the following tools for diagnosis:
- Pulse oximetry. This is a noninvasive test to check the oxygen levels in the blood. Normal levels should range between 95 and 100, if it’s lower than 90, the oxygen levels will be considered too low.
- Pulmonary functions test. This is done in order to determine the ability of the lungs to work with air. It measures the lung volume, capacity, and gas exchange functions.
- Sputum culture. A sputum culture is done if the doctor suspects that a bacteria or a foreign organism is infecting the patient’s lungs. This test is typically performed in the morning for accurate results.
- ABG or arterial blood gas analysis. This test is used to measure the acid and the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood. It determines if your lungs can bring oxygen into the blood and if it can remove carbon dioxide from it as well.
Preventing Chest Colds
The best way to protect yourself against acute bronchitis is by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and getting a shot of vaccine. Some of the things for you to consider include frequent washing of hands, avoiding smoke (either from cigarettes or air pollution), wearing facemasks when going out, taking supplements, exercising, and lastly, eating healthy meals.