Is It Worth It To Use Mucus
Expectorants is the medical term used to describe medications that
- increase the production of mucus in the of the lungs or
- loosen thick, sticky mucus there.
This is meant to make it easier to cough up the phlegm and relieve the cough. Based on the research in this area so far, it isnt clear whether these medications actually help in the treatment of acute . Expectorants should only be used if the phlegm can be coughed up.
Antibiotic Use In Acute Upper Respiratory Tract Infections
ROGER ZOOROB, MD, MPH MOHAMAD A. SIDANI, MD, MS RICHARD D. FREMONT, MD and COURTNEY KIHLBERG, MD, MSPH, Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tennessee
Am Fam Physician. 2012 Nov 1 86:817-822.
Patient information: A handout on antibiotic use is available at .
Upper respiratory tract infections account for millions of visits to family physicians each year in the United States. Although warranted in some cases, antibiotics are greatly overused. This article outlines the guidelines and indications for appropriate antibiotic use for common upper respiratory infections. Early antibiotic treatment may be indicated in patients with acute otitis media, group A beta-hemolytic streptococcal pharyngitis, epiglottitis, or bronchitis caused by pertussis. Persistent cases of rhinosinusitis may necessitate the use of antibiotics if symptoms persist beyond a period of observation. Antibiotics should not be considered in patients with the common cold or laryngitis. Judicious, evidence-based use of antibiotics will help contain costs and prevent adverse effects and drug resistance.
SORT: KEY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PRACTICE
Amoxicillin is the preferred treatment in patients with acute bacterial rhinosinusitis.
SORT: KEY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PRACTICE
Amoxicillin is the preferred treatment in patients with acute bacterial rhinosinusitis.
How The Review Was Done
The researchers did a systematic review, searching for studies available up to January 2014. They found 17 randomized controlled trials with 3936 people, including children, adolescents, and adults.
The key features of the trials were:
- people had acute bronchitis, but not pneumonia or tuberculosis, and had been sick for less than 30 days
- treatments were antibiotics, including deoxycycline, erythromycin, trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, azithromycin, cefuroxime, amoxicillin and co-amoxiclav and
- treatments were compared with placebo or no treatment.
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How Effective Are Herbal Products
Various herbal products are available for the treatment of acute . Some of them are based on combinations of different active ingredients. Examples include Pelargonium, primrose, thyme, eucalyptus and ivy extracts. Studies on these products suggest that they can somewhat soothe acute bronchitis coughs and make it easier to cough up phlegm. The possible side effects include stomach and bowel problems. Statutory health insurers in Germany generally dont cover the costs of these products.
Other herbal products such as those used in traditional Chinese medicine have hardly been tested in high-quality studies. So it isnt known whether they can help. But they, too, can have side effects.
Treatment From Your Gp
Treatment will depend on what caused your chest infection a virus or bacteria.
Viral chest infections
Many chest infections are caused by a virus. This usually clears up by itself after a few weeks and antibiotics won’t help.
Bacterial chest infections
Some chest infections are caused by bacteria. Your GP may prescribe antibiotics. Make sure you complete the whole course as advised by your GP, even if you start to feel better.
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When To See A Doctor
You should see your GP if:
- you feel very unwell or your symptoms are severe
- your symptoms are not improving
- you feel confused, disorientated or drowsy
- you have chest pain or difficulty breathing
- you cough up blood or blood-stained phlegm
- your skin or lips develop a blue tinge
- you’re pregnant
- you’re very overweight and have difficulty breathing
- you think a child under five has a chest infection
- you have a weakened immune system
- you have a long-term health condition
- you have a cough that has lasted more than 3 weeks
Your GP should be able to diagnose you based on your symptoms and by listening to your chest using a stethoscope .
In some cases, further tests such as a chest X-ray, breathing tests and testing phlegm or blood samples may be necessary.
How To Treat Increased Mucus In The Lungs
Sanja Jelic, MD, is board-certified in sleep medicine, critical care medicine, pulmonary disease, and internal medicine.
If you have bronchiectasis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease , clearing mucus from your lungs is an important part of managing your lung disease. Excessive mucus or phlegm build-up can block narrowed air passages, making it difficult for you to breathe. Increased mucus can also lead to infections, such as pneumonia.
Luckily, a variety of treatment options, including controlled coughing, medications, and chest physiotherapy, can help. Here’s a look at some of the techniques your healthcare provider may recommend to decrease lung mucus and reduce your symptoms.
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Active Cycle Of Breathing Techniques
The most widely used technique in the UK is called active cycle of breathing techniques . It involves repeating a cycle made up of a number of different steps.
These include a period of normal breathing, followed by deep breaths to loosen the mucus and force it up, then coughing the mucus out. The cycle is then repeated for 20 to 30 minutes.
Do not attempt ACBT if you have not first been taught the steps by a suitably trained physiotherapist, as performing the techniques incorrectly could damage your lungs.
If you’re otherwise in good health, you’ll probably only need to perform ACBT once or twice a day. If you develop a lung infection, you may need to perform ACBT on a more frequent basis.
Diagnosis Of Acute Bronchitis
When you see your doctor, be ready to talk about your symptoms in detail. You should be able to answer:
- How long have you had your cough?
- Are you coughing up mucus?
- Is there blood in your sputum?
- Did you ever have a fever or other symptoms, such as chest tightness?
- Did you have a cold before the cough?
- Do you have trouble catching your breath?
- Have you been around other people who have the same kinds of symptoms?
At the appointment, your doctor will go over your symptoms and give you a physical exam. Theyâll listen to your chest while you cough. This may be enough to make a diagnosis. You may not need any tests. However, there are other times when you might need one or more.
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Managing Side Effects Of Antibiotics
While there are some cases in which you may be prescribed antibiotics for a common cold, these medications aren’t harmless. There are many side effects of antibiotics. Some are common, and others can be severe and potentially deadly.
- Allergic reactions
- Vaginal itching or yeast infections
- Nausea and vomiting
In a dataset from 2013 and 2014, adverse drug reactions caused 4 out of every 1,000 emergency room visits each year. The most common reason for the visit among children was an adverse reaction to antibiotics.
If you or your child is experiencing side effects from a prescribed antibiotic, make sure to tell your healthcare provider to be certain its nothing to worry about. Theyll also let you know if you should continue taking it or stop.
If youre taking antibiotics, here are a few things you can do to help ward off some side effects of antibiotics:
- Take a probiotic and eat fermented foods like yogurt and kefir.
- Limit sun exposure.
- Take your antibiotic as prescribed .
- Make sure to store it correctly .
- Ensure your healthcare provider knows about all other drugs and supplements youre taking.
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- I have a chronic condition. Am I at higher risk for pneumonia?
- Do I have bacterial, viral, or fungal pneumonia? Whats the best treatment?
- Am I contagious?
- How serious is my pneumonia? Will I need to be hospitalized?
- What can I do at home to help relieve my symptoms?
- What are the possible complications of pneumonia? How will I know if Im developing complications?
- What should I do if my symptoms dont respond to treatment or get worse?
- Do we need to schedule a follow-up exam?
- Do I need any vaccines?
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How Is Walking Pneumonia Diagnosed
Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms, how long youve had them and if any other family members or people you regularly interact with are also ill with similar symptoms. He or she will listen to your lungs with a stethoscope to check for abnormal breath sounds. Your doctor may order chest X-rays to see if there is an infection in your lungs. Your blood or mucus might be tested to determine if your pneumonia is caused by Mycoplasma pneumoniae, another bacteria, virus or fungus.
How Can A Chest Infection Be Prevented
There are measures you can take to help prevent chest infection and to stop the spread of it to others. For instance, washing your hands regularly reduces the chance of germs getting into your system.
You can pass a chest infection on to others through coughing and sneezing. So if you have a chest infection, it’s important to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and to wash your hands regularly. You should throw away used tissues immediately.
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What Can I Do To Treat My Chest Infection
If you have a chest infection, you should:
- Have plenty of rest.
- Drink lots to prevent your body becoming lacking in fluids and to help keep the mucus in your lungs thin and easier to cough up.
- Inhale steam vapour, perhaps with added menthol. This can help to clear the mucus from your chest. Never use hot water for a child’s cough, in case they get scalded by accident
- Avoid lying flat at night to help keep your chest clear of mucus and make it easier to breathe.
- Take paracetamol, ibuprofen or aspirin to reduce high temperature and to ease any aches, pains and headaches.
- If you smoke, you should try to stop smoking for good. Bronchitis, chest infections and serious lung diseases are more common in smokers.
- If your throat is sore from coughing, you can relieve the discomfort with a warm drink of honey and lemon.
What Is Walking Pneumonia
Walking pneumonia is a mild form of pneumonia . This non-medical term has become a popular description because you may feel well enough to be walking around, carrying out your daily tasks and not even realize you have pneumonia.
Most of the time, walking pneumonia is caused by an atypical bacteria called Mycoplasma pneumoniae, which can live and grow in the nose, throat, windpipe and lungs . It can be treated with antibiotics.
Scientists call walking pneumonia caused by mycoplasma atypical because of the unique features of the bacteria itself. Several factors that make it atypical include:
- Milder symptoms
- Natural resistance to medicines that would normally treat bacterial infections
- Often mistaken for a virus because they lack the typical cell structure of other bacteria
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Crackling Or Rattling Sounds In The Lungs
One of the telltale signs of a lung infection is a crackling sound in the base of the lungs, also known as . A doctor can hear these sounds using a tool called a stethoscope.
Bronchitis, pneumonia, and bronchiolitis are three types of lung infections. They are typically caused by a virus or bacteria.
The most common microorganisms responsible for bronchitis include:
- viruses such as the virus or
- bacteria such as Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Chlamydia pneumoniae, and Bordetella pertussis
The most common microorganisms responsible for pneumonia include:
- bacteria such as Streptococcus pneumonia , Haemophilus influenzae, and
- viruses such as the influenza virus or RSV
Rarely, lung infections can be caused by fungi such as Pneumocystis jirovecii, , or .
A fungal lung infection is more common in people who are immunosuppressed, either from certain types of cancer or HIV or from taking immunosuppressive medications.
How Do I Know Whether Its Acute Or Chronic
First, itâs important to figure out a time line.
If you have a cough and breathing problems that have lasted for months or years, it might be chronic bronchitis. This is a long-term health problem that needs ongoing treatment.
Some people with very serious chronic bronchitis have it their entire lives. Others can successfully treat it. Youâre more likely to get it if you smoke.
This usually requires a combination of medications and lifestyle changes. Important ways you can improve your lung health include:
- Quit smoking ask your doctor about therapies that might help.
- Avoid things that can irritate your lungs, such as secondhand smoke, air pollution, and dust.
- Wash your hands a lot to lower the odds of infection.
But those steps are important if you think you have acute bronchitis, too.
To learn other ways to treat your cough, see your doctor to find out whatâs causing it.
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How Is Walking Pneumonia Treated
Walking pneumonia is usually mild, does not require hospitalization and is treated with antibiotics . Several types of antibiotics are effective. Antibiotics that are used to treat walking pneumonia caused by Mycoplasma pneumoniae include:
- Macrolide antibiotics: Macrolide drugs are the preferred treatment for children and adults. Macrolides include azithromycin and clarithromycin . Over the past decade, some strains of Mycoplasma pneumoniae have become resistant to macrolide antibiotics, possibly due to the widespread use of azithromycin to treat various illnesses.
- Fluoroquinolones: These drugs include ciprofloxacin and levofloxacin . Fluoroquinolones are not recommended for young children.
- Tetracyclines: This group includes doxycycline and tetracycline. They are suitable for adults and older children.
Often, over-the-counter medications can also be taken to help relieve symptoms of nasal congestion, cough and loosen mucus buildup in the chest. If you have a fever:
- Drink more fluids
What Else Can You Do
Particularly in the first few days of the illness, it is important to take the time to rest, and avoid strenuous physical activity and sports. People are often advised to drink a lot of fluids to help loosen the mucus in their . But there are no suitable studies on whether drinking a lot of fluids is better than drinking normal amounts, or may even be harmful.
Honey can soothe coughs either eaten on its own or stirred into a warm drink. Studies in children suggest that honey can soothe coughs associated with upper respiratory tract infections. But children under the age of one shouldnt eat honey because they sometimes react sensitively to certain in it.
Smokers who have acute can go easy on their lungs by trying not to smoke, or by smoking a lot less.
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Antibiotics For Cough From Other Causes
While its not likely that youll be prescribed antibiotics for bronchitis, it is possible that youll need antibiotics for an incessant cough caused by another bacteria.
An infection called whooping cough is caused by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis and can cause a lingering cough. Luckily, its prevented in most cases by the pertussis vaccine, which has reduced whooping cough infections drastically.
If you havent been vaccinated against whooping cough , its possible a cough could be caused by the pertussis bacteria.
The symptoms of pertussis are very similar to those of bronchitis. They include initial cold-like symptoms, including:
- A sniffly, runny nose
- A mild, occasional cough
- Unusual pauses in breathing
In pertussis, especially in those who havent been vaccinated, these symptoms worsen and develop into unusual coughing fits with an accompanying high-pitched whoop sound. This usually happens one to two weeks after the initial infection.
These coughing fits can cause exhaustion and vomiting, and can last a long timeup to 10 weeks or more.
Pertussis infections are treated with antibiotics, and early treatment is essential to ease symptoms and prevent the spread of the disease.
Also, try to stay away from others, especially those too young to be vaccinated. Whooping cough is extremely dangerous to infants.
Antibiotics commonly prescribed to treat pertussis include:
What Causes Chest Infections
A chest infection is an infection of the lungs or airways. The main types of chest infection are bronchitis and pneumonia.
Most bronchitis cases are caused by viruses, whereas most pneumonia cases are due to bacteria.
These infections are usually spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. This launches tiny droplets of fluid containing the virus or bacteria into the air, where they can be breathed in by others.
The infections can also be spread to others if you cough or sneeze onto your hand, an object or a surface, and someone else shakes your hand or touches those surfaces before touching their mouth or nose.
Certain groups of people have a higher risk of developing serious chest infections, such as:
- babies and very young children
- children with developmental problems
Read more about the causes of bronchitis and the causes of pneumonia
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When Should You See A Doctor
Infection of the large airways in the lungs usually gets better by itself, so there is often no need to see a GP. If you have asthma or COPD you should take your doctor’s advice. They may have given you recommendations about increasing your inhaler medication or taking a ‘rescue pack’ of antibiotics and steroid tablets at the first sign of an infection. If not, speak with them for advice if you develop symptoms of a chest infection.
There are a number of symptoms that mean you should see a GP even if you do not have any other lung problems. If your symptoms get worse, you should look out for these warning signs. They include:
- If a fever, wheezing or headache becomes worse or severe.
- If you develop fast breathing, shortness of breath, or chest pains.
- If you cough up blood or if your phlegm becomes dark or rusty-coloured.
- If you become drowsy or confused.
- If a cough lasts for longer than 3-4 weeks.
- If you have repeated bouts of acute bronchitis.
- If any other symptom develops that you are concerned about.