Chesty cough? These symptoms indicate you’ve actually got a chest infection

The symptoms of a chesty cough are slightly different from that of a dry or tickly cough. 

They’re often caused by an over-production of mucus due to viral infections due to a cold or flu, which often clear up on their own within three weeks. 

But a chesty cough can also be an individual symptom of a chest infection, that can often follow colds or flu. 

Some chest infections are mild and clear up on their own, but others can be severe and life threatening. 

The NHS outlines the main symptoms of a chest infection to look out for: 

  • Chesty cough - you may cough up green or yellow mucus 
  • Wheezing and shortness of breath 
  • Chest pain or discomfort 
  • High temperature (fever) of 38C or above 
  • Headache 
  • Aching muscles 
  • Tiredness

The health body adds: “These symptoms can be unpleasant, but they usually get better on their own in about seven to ten days. The cough and mucus can last up to three weeks.” 

So what should you do if you have a chest infection? 

  • Get plenty of rest 
  • Drink lots of water to loosen the mucus and make it easier to cough up 
  • Use an air humidifier or inhale steam from a bowl of hot water (adults only) - you can add menthol or eucalyptus oil 
  • Raise your head up while sleeping using extra pillow to make berthing easier and clear your chest of mucus
  • Use painkillers to bring down a fever and ease headaches and muscle pain 
  • Drink a hot lemon and honey drink to relieve a sore throat 

A pharmacist can also suggest decongestant treatments to help loosen the mucus. 

If you experience the following symptoms visit your GP: 

  • You feel very unwell or your symptoms get worse 
  • You cough up blood or blood-stained mucus 
  • You’ve had a cough for more than three weeks 
  • You’re pregnant 
  • You’re over 65 
  • Your immune system is weak - for example, you have a condition like diabetes or you’re having chemotherapy 
  • You have a long-term health condition, such as a heart, lung or kidney condition

If your symptoms are severe you may have pneumonia. 

What can you do if you just have a chesty cough?