Chest infections are incredibly common, especially in the autumn and winter.
Chest infections refer to infections that affect the respiratory system, namely the lungs, and airways. In most cases, viral infections typically resolve on their own with supportive care. However, if you are concerned about your symptoms and/ or the duration of your illness - please talk to your doctor.
Chest infections can be caused by various disease-causing microbes, including bacteria (most commonly Streptococcus strains), viruses (commonly influenza viruses, respiratory syncytial virus) and even some types of fungi. Please see our article on Bronchitis.
The main symptoms of chest infections may include coughing, congestion, shortness of breath, wheezing, fever, fatigue and excess phlegm or mucus resulting in a cough.
Please note: medical attention may be necessary for severe or persistent symptoms.
These types of infections usually are transmitted between people. Chest infections are often transmitted through tiny droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Other instances increasing the risk of transmission include touching contaminated surfaces[i]. It’s a good idea to frequently wash your hands and use natural hand sanitisers when out and about. Dr Bronner's Peppermint Hand Sanitiser / Hand Sanitiser Koala 2pk Jack N' Jill.
Other factors increase risk of a chest infection: including smoking, a weakened immune system (including those taking immunosuppressants), any underlying respiratory conditions (such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease/ COPD) and exposure to pollution[ii] [iii] [iv] [v].
Good nutritional intake supports the immune system by providing what is necessary for immune cell function, helping to resolve an active infection and prevent future ones.
Certain nutrients possess anti-inflammatory and tissue-building properties, which can be seen to help alleviate inflammation in the airways[vi] [vii]. The role of antioxidants is to protect cells from oxidative stress, whilst protein aids in tissue repair[viii] [ix].
Adequate hydration is also important as it assists in maintaining optimal mucus production in the airways and thins out mucus that may be too thick. Additionally, nutrient-dense foods provide energy to support the body's immune response[x].
If eating to build and maintain immunity is important to you, talk to us today to find out how we can help to develop a personalised nutrition plan for you that can both complement medical treatment and address your individual needs.
Hifas da Terra Mico Pne: Mico-Pne (Pneumo) helps to maintain an adequate quality of life of the nutritional status. It contains a variety of bioactive ingredients which come from mushrooms that are beneficial for health: beta-glucans, triterpenes, proteins, antioxidants etc[xi]. Hifas da Terra Mico-Vir: Mico-Vir by Hifas da Terra is a 100% pure standardised extract of reishi and cordyceps. It contains the highest concentration of active biomolecules with action such as beta-glucans[xii].
Zinc and other antimicrobial agents:
Allicin Immune: With all the power of allicin max powder, beta glucans, vitamin C and zinc. Allicin is an active antimicrobial compound in garlic and has action against many microbes which can cause chest infections[xvii].
Pine is believed to have properties such as antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and acts as an expectorant (breaks down mucus and encourages the coughing up of phlegm), which may explain its traditional use in chest infections. Wild Harvested Pine Needle Tea / Bronchosan pine cough syrup[xviii].
Terranova Astragalus, Elderberry & Garlic Complex: Astragalus, elderberry, and garlic are commonly used in traditional remedies for various respiratory conditions due to their potential antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties[xix].
Aqua Oleum Eucalyptus Organic: It is thought to have properties that can fight against germs, help loosen mucus in the lungs, and reduce inflammation in the respiratory tract. People use eucalyptus in different forms, like essential oil, for these purposes[xx].
Organic Pharmacy Lungwort Complex Tincture: Produced by The Organic Pharmacy, this is a crafted herbal formulation designed to promote and maintain optimal respiratory health. It is made from the leaves of the lungwort plant, native to Europe and Asia[xxi].
Vitamin C: is well known for its use in helping to boost the immune system function. Try to include citrus fruits, berries, kiwi, bell peppers, and leafy green vegetables in your diet[xxii].
Zinc: has immune-boosting properties due to its capacity to support immune cell function, control inflammation and its ability to fight off viruses. Certain foods contain high amounts of zinc, especially lean meats and seafood. Other sources include legumes, nuts and seeds[xxiii].
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish (salmon, sardines), walnuts, and flaxseeds, have anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce inflammation seen in the respiratory tract when we experience an infection[xxiv].
Probiotics: to support gut health and immune function, include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and other fermented foods with a good probiotic content in your diet[xxv].
Antioxidants: as mentioned previously, help protect cells from damage. To make sure you can fill your diet with lots of wonderful antioxidants, include colourful fruits and vegetables like berries, spinach, kale, and carrots in your meals. Remember to eat the rainbow every day to get the most out of all the phytonutrients in your food[xxvi][xxvii].
Adequate protein: intake supports tissue repair. Include lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes, and dairy products in your diet[xxviii].
Garlic and onions: have natural antimicrobial properties and can therefore be helpful during the recovery from respiratory tract infections. Incorporate them into your cooking, and remember to leave fresh, finely chopped garlic for 10 minutes prior to cooking to fully activate the antimicrobial constituents[xxix].
Avoid refined sugar and processed foods: as they can weaken the immune system and promote inflammation. Think of these as your white foods, such as white bread, etc. Processed foods also include snack foods like cakes, pastries and sweets[xxx].
A healthy lifestyle can bolster your immune system's ability to fight infections.
Sleep: Ensure you get adequate sleep, eat a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, take part in regular physical activity and keep stress levels to a minimum[xxxi].
Staying active: Regular physical exercise is crucial as it supports overall health and can help strengthen your respiratory system. Engage in moderate exercise, such as walking or cycling, where tolerated[xxxii].
Avoid smoking: Smoking damages the respiratory system and weakens the immune system, it also reduces the amount of vitamin C in your body, making you more susceptible to infections of the respiratory system[xxxiii].
Diagnosis of chest infections may involve a physical examination or sometimes more advanced imaging techniques.
NutrEval: Immune health can also be ascertained through nutritional testing. This test provides a unique and comprehensive assessment of nutritional status. This test requires a blood sample with a urine sample and provides the analysis of some markers which can impact immune health such as vitamin D, glutathione, homocysteine and much more[xxxiv] [xxxv] [xxxvi].
There may be a number of underlying factors which could cause frequently recurrent chest infections. In holistic healthcare it is stressed that everyone is different, and has a different health history and trajectory. Therefore, we recommend you discuss your symptoms with us to see if there is anything we can offer for your individual needs.
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Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.