Chest Cold: Introduction
A chest cold is a disease of the lower respiratory tract in the lungs. A chest cold is often caused by a viral infection, such as a upper respiratory infection or influenza that settles in the lungs. A chest cold may also be caused by pollutants in the air and, rarely, a chest cold can also be caused by a bacterial infection. Both of these infections result in inflammation of the airways of the lungs called the bronchi and the bronchioles.
Infection and inflammation of the bronchi and the bronchioles leads to symptoms of a chest cold that can include a wet cough that produces white or yellow phlegm, shortness of breath, and fever. Complications of chest cold, such as pneumonia can be serious, even life threatening, and result in additional symptoms. For more details on symptoms, refer to symptoms of chest cold.
The term chest cold is commonly used to refer to the disease acute bronchitis. A chest cold is a common disease that can occur at any time of the year, but most cases happen in the winter months. Chest colds are most common in infants and young children and the elderly.
People at risk for developing a chest cold include smokers and people who are exposed to air pollution or lung irritants. Other people at risk include those who have diseases of the lungs, such as lung cancer, congestive heart failure, or emphysema.
Making a diagnosis of a chest cold begins with taking a thorough medical history, including symptoms, smoking history, and exposure to lung irritants. A physical examination is also performed and includes listening with a stethoscope to the sounds that lungs make during respiration. Lung sounds that may point to a diagnosis of a chest cold include a bubbling, wheezing, or crackling sound and decreased lung sounds.
Diagnostic testing can include lung function tests, such as a spirometry, which measures how much air is moved in and out of the lungs. A chest X-ray and CT scan of the chest can help to evaluate such factors as the presence of other lung conditions, including COPD, pneumonia and congestive heart failure.
A sample of phlegm that is coughed up may be tested for the presence of bacteria or other pathogens. For people who have a severe case of a chest cold, an arterial blood gas test may be done. In this test a sample of blood taken from an artery is measured for many parameters of effective breathing, including the oxygen level in the blood.
It is possible that a diagnosis of a chest cold can be missed or delayed because symptoms may be mild or possibly attributed to other conditions. For more information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of chest cold.
The treatment for a chest cold involves a multifaceted approach. Treatment plans vary depending on the cause, (bacterial or viral) the severity of the symptoms, the presence of complications, and an individual's medical history. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of chest cold. ...more »
An acute viral infection of the lower respiratory system. A chest cold usually progresses from a common cold and can be quite persistent. Chest colds also have the potential to develop into pneumonia. ...more »
Chest Cold: Symptoms
The types and severity of symptoms of chest colds vary between individuals depending on a variety of factors. These include age, general health, medical history, and the presence of complications.
Chest colds are the result of a viral infection, bacterial infection or exposure to air pollutants. These causes result in inflammation of the airways of the lungs and in typical symptoms. ...more symptoms »
Chest Cold: Treatments
The goal of treatment of chest cold is to control symptoms, such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath, and to minimize the development of serious complications, such as pneumonia.
The first step in treatment is prevention. The risk of developing a chest cold can be reduced by not smoking. It is also important to avoid air pollutants and exposure to ...more treatments »
Chest Cold: Misdiagnosis
A diagnosis of a chest cold may be delayed or missed because some symptoms, such as cough, shortness of breath, fever, fatigue, and wheezing can attributed to other conditions and diseases. These include upper respiratory infection, influenza, and pneumonia. It is important to seek prompt medical care if you experience any symptoms of chest cold and ...more misdiagnosis »
Symptoms of Chest Cold
See full list of 13
symptoms of Chest Cold
Treatments for Chest Cold
- Will usually resolve within 3-4 days and antibiotics generally not required
- Treat symptoms: Cold and Flu Medications, paracetamol, paracetamol + codeine
- Increase fluid intake to 8 glasses water/day
- Steam heaters/vapourisers
- Cease or cut down on smoking, avoid cigarette smoke and other irritants
- more treatments...»
See full list of 6
treatments for Chest Cold
Home Diagnostic Testing
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Wrongly Diagnosed with Chest Cold?
Chest Cold: Related Patient Stories
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Causes of Chest Cold
- Often follows common cold
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary/Airways Disease
- more causes...»
Read more about causes of Chest Cold
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Chest Cold: Undiagnosed Conditions
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Misdiagnosis and Chest Cold
Sinusitis is overdiagnosed: There is a tendency to give a diagnosis of sinusitis,
when the condition is really a harmless complication of another infection,
such as a ...read more »
Whooping cough often undiagnosed: Although most children in the Western world have been
immunized against whooping cough (also called "pertussis"), this protection wears
off after about 15 years.
Thus, any teen or adult with...read more »
Read more about Misdiagnosis and Chest Cold
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Chest Cold: Rare Types
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Chest Cold: Broader Related Topics
Types of Chest Cold
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