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Chest Infections

Chest infections can be categorised into acute bronchitis (an infection of the large airways into the lung) and pneumonia (an infection of the lung). Most cases of bronchitis are viral in their nature and require no treatment. Antibiotics have no impact on viral infections so administration of antibiotics will make no difference to your recovery if you have a viral infection. Pneumonia is usually bacterial and does require antibiotic treatment.

Can I get antibiotics online?

The Online Clinic is no longer assessing and treating Chest Infections. It is preferable for patients to be seen by their GP (or assessed via NHS 111, where there is access to the full medical record). If you have symptoms that you think may be a chest infection, please contact your GP or NHS 111 in the first instance.

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Acute Bronchitis

Acute bronchitis is an infection of the large airways. This is normally caused by a virus and does not require treatment. The symptoms of acute bronchitis include:

  • Persistent cough
  • Coughing up phlegm
  • Wheeziness
  • Headache
  • Elevated temperature

Symptoms will normally persist for around 10 days but can take up to 3 weeks to clear. If your symptoms persist for longer than this then the infection may have spread and you may require treatment.


Pneumonia is a serious infection of the lungs and antibiotic therapy is usually required. If you are otherwise healthy then this therapy can be administered at home. If the symptoms are more serious then you may be required to be admitted to hospital.

Symptoms include:

  • Chest pain
  • Fever
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Coughing up phlegm

Home treatment

If your symptoms are mild then you will not normally require any treatment. You should get plenty of rest and you can take something like ibuprofen or paracetamol or aspirin to reduce any fever and help with aches and pains. Do not take cough remedies as they are likely to be counter-productive. Drink plenty of fluids and avoid lying flat when you are sleeping.

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