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Helping the people of Leicester to have long and healthy lives.

Leicester City Clinical Commissioning Group

Chest infection

Chest infections are common, especially with a cold or flu.

Mostly, they’re not serious and they get better after a few days or weeks. You won’t normally need to see your GP.


  • a chesty cough– you might cough up clear, green or yellow mucus
  • wheezing and feeling short of breath
  • chest pain
  • high temperature (fever)
  • headache
  • aching muscles
  • tiredness

Coughing actually helps you clear the infection by getting rid of the phlegm (mucus) from your lungs.

Antibiotics won’t help a chest infection caused by a virus like flu or viral bronchitis. They’ll only help a bacterial 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)
  • raise your head up while sleeping using extra pillows to make breathing easier and clear your chest of mucus
  • use painkillers to bring down a fever and ease headaches and muscle pain

Seek medical advice if:

  • 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 3 weeks
  • you have another health condition, like diabetes, or heart, lung or kidney disease, or if you drink alcohol heavily
  • you’re over 65
  • you have a weak immune system

Get more detailed advice

Could it be coronavirus?

If you have any of the following symptoms, however mild, you need to do a PCR test as soon as possible to make sure it isn’t Covid-19;

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

Self-isolate until you get your test result and only leave your home to have a test.

Get advice about coronavirus symptoms and what to do