Chest infections are common, especially after a cold or flu during autumn and winter. Although most are mild and get better on their own, some can be serious or even life-threatening.


A persistent cough, coughing up yellow or green phlegm (thick mucus), or coughing up blood.

Breathlessness or rapid and shallow breathing, wheezing.

A high temperature (fever), a rapid heartbeat, chest pain or tightness when taking a breath.

Feeling confused and disorientated.

You may also experience more general symptoms of an infection, such as: headache, fatigue, sweating, loss of appetite or joint and muscle pain.

Causes of a chest infection.

A chest infection is an infection of the lungs or airways. The main types of chest infection are bronchitis and pneumonia.

Most bronchitis cases are caused by viruses. Most pneumonia cases are due to bacteria.

These infections are usually spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. This launches tiny droplets of fluid containing the virus or bacteria into the air. These droplets can then be breathed in by others.

The infections can also be spread to others. This happens if you cough or sneeze onto your hand, an object or a surface, and someone else shakes your hand or touches those surfaces before touching their mouth or nose.

Certain groups of people have a higher risk of developing serious chest infections, such as: babies and young children, children with developmental problems. people who are very overweight, elderly people, pregnant women, people who smoke, people with long-term health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, cystic fibrosis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), people with a weakened immune system.

Self-help tips

Getting plenty of rest.

Adequate fluid to avoid dehydration.

Stopping smoking.

Good hand hygiene to prevent getting infected.


The chest infections caused by viruses could resolve on its own and you would not need any treatment.

In other cases, a course of antibiotics would be needed and could be easily prescribed.

When do you get in touch with Sandsclinic?

If you have any persistent cough or with any of the above symptoms, we could make a diagnosis and commence antibiotics. We could also refer you to a respiratory specialist if needed.