What are the symptoms of a chest cold?

The symptoms of a chest cold are caused by inflammation of the airways of the lungs (bronchi and bronchioles) due to infection or irritation.

How severe your chest cold symptoms are depends on your age, general health, and medical history. In generally healthy adults, symptoms of a chest cold may be relatively mild. Symptoms are often more severe in people who have chronic illnesses, such as COPD or congestive heart failure, or in the very young or very old. Symptoms are often confused with those of allergies.

Symptoms of a chest cold include:

  • Chest congestion

  • Chest pain or chest tightness when coughing

  • Chills

  • Fatigue

  • Fever

  • Loose, wet cough that produces thick white or yellow phlegm

  • Shortness of breath, especially with exertion

Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition

In some cases, a chest cold can lead to serious complications, such as pneumonia, which can be life threatening. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Change in level of consciousness

  • Confusion or disorientation

  • Gurgling sound in the throat

  • High fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit)

  • Lethargy

  • Moderate to severe shortness of breath

  • Rapid, labored breathing

  • Rapid pulse

  • Wheezing, a whistling sound made with breathing


What is a chest cold?

The term “chest cold” is commonly used to refer to a contagious disease called acute bronchitis. Acute bronchitis is a disease of the lower respiratory tract in the lungs. A chest cold or acute bronchitis is most often caused by a viral infection, such as influenza or an upper respiratory infection that spreads to the lungs. This results in inflammation of the bronchi and bronchioles, small hol... Read more about chest coldintroduction


What causes a chest cold?

Chest colds are most often caused by a viral infection, such as influenza or an upper respiratory infection that spreads to the lungs. Chest colds can also be caused by pollutants in the air and, rarely, a bacterial infection.

A chest cold caused by an infection generally spreads from person to person when someone with the disease coughs, talks or sneezes. This shoots contaminated... Read more about chest coldcauses


How is a chest cold treated?

The goals of the treatment of a chest cold include minimizing the risk of developing pneumonia and controlling symptoms to allow for sufficient rest to recover. Mild cases of a chest cold that occur in generally healthy older children and adults may be treated at home. Moderate to severe cases of a chest cold or cases in infants, older adults, or in people with chronic diseases may require hosp... Read more about chest coldtreatments

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Aug 1, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

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