Waiting out a chest cold may be the best way to treat it unless it turns into pneumonia. While a person is waiting for the cold to go away, there are several things he or she can do to help ease the symptoms. Using medications to reduce fever, vapor inhalants, and getting lots of rest may be some of the best options for a person suffering from a chest cold. Hydration is also very important when a person is sick, so drinking lots of water could help a great deal as well.
Chest colds, which are also commonly referred to as bronchitis, normally start off as a regular cold. It becomes a chest cold when the phlegm and mucous drain down into the lungs. This causes symptoms such as excessive coughing, wheezing, and occasionally fever. The primary concern with the majority of chest colds is that they could turn into pneumonia, which is a serious and sometimes life-threatening condition. If a person with a chest cold starts having difficulty breathing, experiencing fatigue, or having chest pains he or she should see a doctor immediately to be sure they do not have pneumonia.
Studies indicate that most chest colds must go away on their own and that antibiotics do little to nothing for curing them. Most people who do not take antibiotics to treat chest colds get over them in the same amount of time as people who do take antibiotics. For this reason, doctors are not prescribing antibiotics to treat chest colds as often as they did in the past. Antibiotics should only be prescribed when absolutely necessary because overuse may cause them to become ineffective when they are really needed. If a chest cold turns into pneumonia, antibiotics are typically still used and are often effective for treating it.
A person who has a chest cold may benefit from taking medicine to reduce fever. Over-the-counter products containing acetaminophen and ibuprofen may effectively reduce fevers in many people, and are also normally effective for most types of pain associated with colds. It may also be beneficial for a person with a chest cold to rub a topical vapor inhalant cream on their chest before they go to sleep. The menthol in the inhalant can help the lungs to open, which should help with breathing and possibly reduce coughing at night.
Some people use herbal teas containing chamomile and echinacea when they have a chest cold. These herbs combined with steaming water may help to soothe a sore throat as well as boost immune system function and help with sleeping. Doctors do not always stand behind herbal remedies for treating the symptoms of colds, but many people who use these methods claim they are very beneficial for treating their symptoms.