Acute bronchitis is commonly referred to as a “chest cold.” The illness causes the airways in the lungs to expand and generate mucus, resulting in a cough. It’s not the same as a regular cold, which has a different effect on the lungs. Acute bronchitis, unlike chronic bronchitis, is not a long-term sickness. We look at the chest cold symptoms and causes in this article and when a person should consult a doctor.
Is it bronchitis or something else?
A chest cold symptom (or acute bronchitis) can sometimes cause chronic bronchitis. The following symptoms can identify chronic bronchitis:
- The chest cold symptoms are not responding to over-the-counter medications. A chest cold heals typically on its own with over-the-counter medicine, but persistent bronchitis does not always respond to treatment and requires medical attention.
- You can tell the difference between a chest cold and chronic bronchitis by the intensity and length of your chest cold symptoms. Colds in the chest usually improve in 7 to 10 days. Chronic bronchitis is characterized by a persistent hacking cough that lasts at least three months. Other signs and symptoms include discomfort or tightness in the chest.
- Bronchitis can sometimes result in a low-grade fever.
The chest cold symptoms have gotten worse. Bronchitis will also make your chest cold symptoms worse. Coughing may keep you awake at night, and you may struggle to take deep breaths. Mucus production might also become more problematic. Blood may be present in your mucus, depending on the severity of your bronchitis.
Is it possible that you have pneumonia?
Some chest colds progress to pneumonia, a lung infection that affects both lungs. When an infection in your airway spreads to your lungs, you have pneumonia. It might be difficult to tell the difference between pneumonia and bronchitis. Coughing, trouble breathing, and chest tightness are all possible side effects.
On the other hand, the chest cold symptoms are often more severe than those of bronchitis. When you’re at rest, for example, you can have shallow breathing or difficulty breathing. A high temperature, a quick heart rate, and dark or red mucus are all symptoms of pneumonia. Other pneumonia symptoms include:
- chest discomfort
- a reduction in body temperature
Pneumonia can be moderate or severe, leading to sepsis if left untreated. This is a severe reaction to a bodily illness. Mental disorientation, low blood pressure, fever, and a high heart rate are signs of sepsis.
What is acute bronchitis (chest cold)?
When the lungs’ airways enlarge and create mucus, it is called a chest cold. This is what causes you to cough. A chest cold, also known as acute bronchitis, is the most common kind of bronchitis and lasts less than three weeks.
Acute bronchitis usually goes away on its own after about three weeks. Trusted Source. On the other hand, coughing may continue longer than other symptoms, according to the American Lung Association. Coughing is one of the most prevalent chest cold symptoms of acute bronchitis. To begin with, it is usually dry. However, the cough creates a lot of mucus later on.
Symptoms of a chest cold combined with additional respiratory problems
Chest cold symptoms can be made worse by a respiratory ailment such as asthma, lung cancer, emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis, or other lung disorders. A chest cold might induce a flare-up or increase chest cold symptoms in some of these illnesses, which already cause breathing problems. If this is the case, you may have more significant shortness of breath, mucous production, and cough. Even little exertion might cause wheezing or shortness of breath.
Chest cold symptoms
A chest cold can cause the following symptoms in addition to a cough:
- congestion and discomfort in the chest
- headaches and other aches and discomfort
- a scratchy throat
- a high temperature
- a runny, congested nose
Causes of Chest Cold Symptoms
Viruses are the most common cause of acute bronchitis. It might happen after a viral illness like the common cold or the flu. Bacteria is one of the other reasons. Bacteria can cause acute bronchitis; however, antibiotics are not indicated in these circumstances and will not help you recover. Bacterial infections can cause acute bronchitis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Trusted Source study, antibiotics will not help a person recover from a chest cold if it is bacterial, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Trusted Source study.
A chest cold can be triggered by breathing in irritants such as cigarette smoke or other pollutants. Exposure to dust, pollen, and other particles can irritate the airways, resulting in chest cold symptoms.
Treatment for Chest Cold
Acute bronchitis usually goes away without treatment, but there are a few things you may do to speed up the healing process:
- getting a good night’s sleep
- keeping yourself hydrated
- the use of decongestants
- the use of a humidifier
- to soothe the throat by sucking on cough drops or lozenges
- To get rid of a cough, consume honeyed tea.
When giving over-the-counter medicine to a newborn with a chest cold, exercise care. Follow the directions on the package carefully, and if you have any concerns, contact a pharmacist or another healthcare practitioner. Aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), and acetaminophen (Tylenol) are examples of fever reducers that can help ease the symptoms of a chest cold. However, aspirin should not be given to newborns due to the increased risk. Reye’s syndrome, which can harm the brain and liver, is a trusted source of information.
Doctors have previously given antibiotics to treat acute bronchitis, according to a 2014 study, Trusted Source. On the other hand, doctors should not prescribe antibiotics for a chest cold, even if the patient expects one. The sickness will not be cured with this sort of treatment. Antibiotics should not be used since they might cause short- and long-term adverse effects. Rashes and antibiotic-resistant illnesses are among the issues addressed by this reliable source.
According to 2013 research, antibiotic abuse may be due to erroneous assumptions about how long a cough should linger. According to the survey, most individuals expect a chest cold cough to go gone on its own after 5–7 days. On the other hand, this cough can continue up to 8 weeks because it is the symptom that lasts the longest.
To diagnose a chest cold, doctors usually do a physical examination. If the patient has a fever, the doctor may perform an X-ray to rule out pneumonia, a lung infection that necessitates a different treatment plan.
In older individuals, persons with compromised immune systems, and people with previous lung diseases, pneumonia is most commonly a consequence of a chest cold. Other measures that doctors may use to confirm the diagnosis of a chest cold include:
- Pulse oximetry determines the amount of oxygen in the blood. Pulmonary function tests determine the ability of the lungs to carry air—sputum cultures aid in identifying the bacterium that is causing the disease.
- The quantity of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood is measured via arterial blood gas analysis.
People should wash their hands properly to avoid getting a chest cold. The CDC Trusted Source also recommends the flu vaccination. The pneumococcal vaccine can help protect you from pneumonia, a severe side effect of a chest cold. On the other hand, doctors only suggest select individuals, such as persons over 65, and certain long-term health conditions. Anyone concerned about getting a chest cold should avoid smoking and secondhand smoke.
When should you see a doctor?
If you have acute bronchitis or chest cold symptoms, the CDC recommends that you consult a doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Symptoms that last longer than three weeks
- symptoms that keep reappearing
- mucus with blood
- a temperature of at least 100.4°F
- breathing problems
These chest cold symptoms might result from a different sickness or a subsequent bacterial infection that necessitates antibiotic therapy. Regardless of the severity of their symptoms, anybody with established heart or lung illness who feels they have a chest cold should consult a doctor.
How to Make Yourself Feel Better?
While your body battles acute bronchitis, here are some strategies to feel better:
- Make sure you get enough sleep.
- Drink a lot of water.
- Use a cold mist vaporizer or a clean humidifier.
- To treat a stuffy nose, use saline nasal spray or drops.
- To clean the mucus in young children, use a rubber suction bulb.
- Inhale vapor from a hot water bowl or a shower.
- Suck on lozenges for a while. Children under the age of four should not be given tablets.
- Adults and children over the age of one year can use honey to ease coughs.
Inquire with your doctor or pharmacist about over-the-counter medications that may be able to assist you in feeling better. Always follow the directions for over-the-counter medications. Remember that over-the-counter medications may relieve your symptoms temporarily, but they will not cure your sickness.
Children and Over-the-Counter Medicine
Give children over-the-counter drugs with caution. Some over-the-counter medications are not appropriate for children of specific ages.
- Only acetaminophen should be given to children under the age of six months.
- It is safe to administer acetaminophen or ibuprofen to children aged six months and up.
- Aspirin should never be given to children since it might induce Reye’s syndrome, a rare but deadly liver and brain disease.
- Cough and cold drugs should not be given to children under four unless a doctor expressly instructs you to do so. Over-the-counter cough and cold drugs can have dangerous and sometimes life-threatening adverse effects in young children.
Children aged four and up: check with your kid’s doctor to see whether giving your child over-the-counter cough and hard drugs for brief symptom relief is safe. Always consult your doctor or pharmacist to determine the proper over-the-counter drug dosage for your child’s age and size. Also, make sure your child’s doctor and pharmacist are aware of any prescription or over-the-counter medications they’re taking.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1. What is the duration of a chest cold?
Colds in the chest usually improve in 7 to 10 days. Chronic bronchitis is characterized by a persistent hacking cough that lasts at least three months. Other signs and symptoms include discomfort or tightness in the chest.
Q2. When do I need to be concerned about a chest cold?
If you have any of the following symptoms, see a doctor: A temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or greater is required. Coughing up a lot of bloody mucous. Breathing difficulties or shortness of breath.
Q3. What should you do if you have a chest cold?
To keep hydrated and thin mucus, drink plenty of water. Coughing and chest congestion may be relieved as a result of this.
Q4. Why does a cold constantly seem to find its way to my chest?
The sense of being ‘bunged up’ when you have a cold occurs because the capillaries in your nose become irritated, causing them to leak. This is your body’s strategy of getting essential items like immune cells to an infection location.
Colds in the chest are more likely after a typical cold or flu. Although a lingering cough can be bothersome and keep you up at night, symptoms are usually short-lived and disappear in about a week. A chest cold, often known as acute bronchitis, differs from chronic bronchitis in that it appears suddenly and lasts only a few weeks.
Use this article to deal with your problems related to chest cold symptoms.
Take over-the-counter fever reducers, get plenty of rest, and drink enough water to treat the chest cold symptoms. Hand washing is a practical approach to avoid this problem from recurring. It is critical for patients with heart illness or lung disease to get medical help if they think they have a chest cold. Consult your doctor if you have a weakened immune system, a persistent cough, or signs of bronchitis or pneumonia.