A chest cold (acute bronchitis) is a contagious disease that is found in the lower respiratory tract of the lungs. Most times this is caused by a viral infection that has spread to the lungs. Once this happens, the bronchi and the bronchioles become inflamed and this leads to chest colds. Most cases of chest colds are reported during the winter and are mostly diagnosed in older adults, young children and infants.
Risk factors of a chest cold include smokers, persons exposed to lung irritants such as air pollution and persons who have lung disease.
Chest cold symptoms include chills, fever, chest pains, chest congestion, and tightness in the chest while coughing, shortness of breath, fever or a constant wet cough where you produce white or yellow phlegm.
The severity of symptoms of chest colds depends on a person’s age, medical history and the person’s general health. In adults who have generally good health symptoms are relatively mild. Persons who suffer from chronic illnesses show severe chest cold symptoms as well as persons who are very young or very old. Symptoms however are misinterpreted as allergy symptoms.
Chest colds can lead to severe complications such as pneumonia. This is a life threatening complication and emergency personnel should be contacted immediately if the person shows signs of the following: disorientation, confusion, a fever above 101 degrees Fahrenheit, rapid pulse, wheezing, lethargy and shortness of breath.
Pneumonia can result in the life-threatening complications such as shock, dehydration, lung abscess, acute respiratory distress syndrome, hypoxia, sepsis, respiratory arrest, respiratory failure, dehydration, pleural effusion and empyema.
The main focus of treating chest colds is to ensure that the patient’s risk of getting pneumonia is controlled as well as ensuring the other symptoms are neutralized. Mild cases can be treated at home while moderate to severe cases require hospitalization.
Chest colds are treated with the use of a multifaceted treatment plan that varies based on the patient’s medical history.
Chest colds can be treated using antibiotic medications which treat the bacteria associated with the chest cold. This method of treatment is not effective if the chest cold was caused by a virus. Bronchodilators may be used to relieve the patient’s shortness of breath as well as ease breathing as it opens and relaxes the lower airways that lead to the lungs. This is inhaled using an inhaler.
A cool mist vaporizer can also be used together with large intakes of fluid to prevent the patient from getting dehydrated.
Oxygen therapy is another form of treatment that can be used for chest colds. This is done through a mask that relieves shortness of breath or nasal prongs. This ensures that the body gets enough oxygen to maintain its function.
The thick phlegm that is associated with the cough may have to be suctioned medically to relieve the patient.
Most of all, the patient needs rest to be able to fully recover especially if they are one medications for fever.
Remember if you or anyone you may know is experiencing chest cold symptoms to seek medical attention before symptoms worsen.
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