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How Do I Choose the Best Chest Infection Treatment?

A cough suppressant may be needed to deal with a persistent cough.
Chest pain is one symptom of pneumonia.
Chest x-rays are used to confirm a diagnosis of pneumonia.
Most pneumonia cases are treated with antibiotics.
Article Details
  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 28 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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Patients with no medical training are not advised to choose their own chest infection treatment. Closer, expert medical examination is needed to determine the specific cause and location of chest infections. Cause and location dictate the best treatment and some treatments can only be obtained from a doctor. It’s therefore strongly recommended that people seek medical help to get the most appropriate and efficacious chest infection treatment.

The two major areas that are impacted by infection are the bronchi, which feed air into the lungs, and the actual lungs. An infection with the bronchi causes bronchitis, and an infection in the lungs causes pneumonia. This is complicated because infections can be of different origin, and may be viral, bacterial, or fungal.

Typical symptoms of bronchitis include a wet cough, wheezing, fever, and headache, and these can last for two to three weeks. Pneumonia symptoms include pain in the chest, breathlessness or exhaustion after minimal exertion, cough with phlegm, and fever. The underlying type of infection may make symptoms more or less pronounced. Some forms of viral pneumonia are less challenging than fungal or bacterial pneumonia, for example.

In most cases, doctors have a good sense of the right type of chest infection treatment by examining a patient and exploring his or her symptoms. When pneumonia is suspected, a chest x-ray can be ordered for confirmation of the diagnosis. Once confirmed, most pneumonia is treated with antibiotics, unless there is reason to suspect pneumonia of viral or fungal origin.

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Viral pneumonia treatments may include bed rest, plenty of fluids, anti-pyretics, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, occasionally inhaled steroids or asthma medication, and possibly over the counter or prescription cough syrup. Viral bronchitis chest infection treatment is often similar to viral pneumonia treatments, while bacterial bronchitis is generally treated with antibiotics.

Chest infection treatment for fungal infection may differ. Antibiotics can actually benefit opportunistic fungi by killing helpful bacteria that would keep fungi in check. Antifungal medicine is used, instead. There can also be additional treatments needed with pneumonia. Sometimes fluid in the lungs accumulates at a rapid pace and requires aspiration or occasionally it becomes so thick that pneumonia can last for numerous months.

Even physicians aren’t always able to distinguish the origin of an infection, without other testing. Fungal pneumonia might not be suspected at first because it is rarer than other types. It might only be diagnosed after a patient has failed to respond to antibiotics or has worsened while taking them. Doctors usually make their decision on the best chest infection treatment by looking at symptoms and deciding on the most likely cause.

One instance where this has been most evident is in the treatment of bronchitis. Until recently, bronchitis was almost always thought to be of bacterial origin and the best chest infection treatment was a course of antibiotics. It’s now thought that most bronchitis is viral, and it won’t respond to antibiotics. Still, there is bacterial bronchitis, and doctors must make a judgment call when treating by assessing the patient’s response to the suggested treatment.

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