The upcoming winter months bring family, food, and unfortunately, chest congestion. Chest colds, or acute bronchitis, is caused by a virus and usually occurs after an upper respiratory infection. Acute bronchitis is the most common form of bronchitis, and it lasts for less than three weeks. While chest colds tend to fix themselves after a short amount of time, sometimes they require medical intervention. But when do you know it’s time?
Symptoms of a Chest Cold
Symptoms of acute bronchitis can include coughing either with or without mucus, feeling a soreness in the chest, feeling fatigue, having a sore throat, experiencing minor body aches, and having a mild headache.
Signs It’s Time to See a Doctor
- You’re experiencing chest pain or you’re wheezing when you breathe.
Both of these symptoms indicate a worsening condition, and can even point to pneumonia and difficultly breathing. A doctor will be able to prescribe you an inhaler to alleviate these symptoms.
- You’ve had repeated episodes of bronchitis
Recurrent bronchitis is diagnosed when you’ve had bronchitis 3 to 4 times throughout a given year. Having repeated bronchitis may mean you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). There are at least 11 million people living in the United States with COPD, and there are more who are undiagnosed.
- You have a temperature of 100.4° F or higher
Having a fever, even a low grade one, when recovering from bronchitis can be the sign of a worsening condition. A fever is a sign of inflammation, meaning there could be a worse infection happening. It’s important to go to the doctor in order to rule out any serious conditions.
- Your cough is accompanied by bloody mucus
Bloody mucus can be the sign of an emergency. This can be due to irritation, or it could be due to something more serious, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis. Bloody mucus accompanied by dizziness, a fever, or shortness of breath can be an indication that your condition is worsening.
- Your symptoms haven’t eased up after 3 weeks
You’ve exhausted all of your options. You’ve taken the decongestant, you’ve had more hot, steamy showers than you can count on one hand, and your cough is just as bad as it was when you first showed symptoms. A doctor will be able to asses you and give you proper treatment.
It’s important to note that this list is not all inclusive. If you are concerned about your symptoms, call your doctor and ask for their advice.
How to Get Rid of a Chest Cold
While antibiotics may not always help with chest congestion, there are many things you can do at home to relieve your symptoms. It’s important to ensure your body is hydrated, as clear liquids help to thin the mucus inside your throat and lungs. Placing a humidifier in the room you’re in helps soothe lung irritation, and sleeping on multiple pillows will help you breathe easier overnight. Taking a hot steamy shower or bath can help to dislodge whatever is irritating your chest. Taking over-the-counter medications like decongestants and aspirin will help alleviate pain, lower your fever, and get the mucus out. Combining these home remedies will help you shorten your healing time, alleviate your symptoms, and help you go back to your daily life sooner rather than later.
At BASS Urgent Care, our team takes patients’ health seriously. If you are concerned about your symptoms, give us a call at (925) 378-4245 to set up an appointment and let one of our amazing staff members help you!