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Essential to spot early signs of chest infection.

First, I wish to start by wishing Mzee Nyachae a quick recovery. He is a man who has made enormous contributions to Kenya's development and we must all pray for him to recover quickly.

Now what is a chest infection?

It is an infection affecting your lower large airways, also known as bronchi and your lungs.

Pneumonia and bronchitis are the most common chest infections. Bronchitis is usually caused by a viral infection. Pneumonia is usually by a bacterial infection. Pneumonia may be serious and require hospitalisation.

Any infection higher up is known as URTI, upper respiratory tract infection. There are many causes of chest infections, including tuberculosis, bacteria, parasites and viruses.

The main symptoms of chest infection are: a chesty cough, breathing difficulties that include shortness of breath and wheezing, chest pain or tightness, high temperature, headache, muscle aches and pains, fatigue and rapid heartbeat.

A severe chest infection can require ICU treatment. This is because the chest is where the respiratory system is located and therefore a severe chest infection can bring about complications in the breathing system.

Once the lungs are affected, this means the patient cannot breathe as required and therefore doctors are required to administer aided breathing, oxygen.

Many chest infections, however, aren't serious and improve in a few days or weeks of treatment. Chest infections can range from mild but unpleasant to life-threatening - and early diagnosis is key to reducing the risk of serious complications. That's why it is essential to be able to spot early on the signs of a chest infection.

Chest infections tend to be severe among newborns, pre-terms and old people who have more predisposing factors. That is why you see many young children dying of pneumonia.

As people advance in age, they are more susceptible to chest infections. When Nelson Mandela's age was advancing he was most of time in and out of hospitals because of chest infections.

In the case of Mzee Nyachae, he is more likely to get chest infection attacks because of his advanced age.

Pneumonia, unlike bronchitis, is often caused by a germ and may need treatment with antibiotics. If you have mild pneumonia, you can take antibiotics as tablets at home. If the pneumonia is more serious, antibiotics are given through a drip into a vein in hospital.

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Publication:The Star (Nairobi, Kenya)
Date:Apr 11, 2018
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