NHS 111 Wales Health A-Z : Bronchitis

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NHS 111 Wales Health A-Z : Bronchitis

NHS 111 Wales Health A-Z : Bronchitis

It happens when the infection spreads further into the lungs, causing the tiny air sacs inside the lungs to fill up with fluid. Side effects of these drugs are uncommon, steroids legality but include feeling sick, being sick and diarrhoea. If you’re prescribed antibiotics for bronchitis, it’s likely to be a 5-day course of amoxicillin or doxycycline.

  • Each episode will have been at least 1 month apart with an X-ray having visibly confirmed the infection had gone after the previous episode.
  • Side effects of these drugs are uncommon, but include feeling sick, being sick and diarrhoea.
  • Your appetite will go back to normal when you stop steroids – but some people need to diet to lose the extra weight.
  • Asthma cannot be treated with antibiotics because the inflammation in your airways isn’t caused by bacteria.

The new EU restrictions closely align with existing UK national guidance. Steroid creams are safe to use during pregnancy, but if you’re breastfeeding you’ll need to make sure any cream is wiped off before feeding. Very strong topical steroids aren’t usually prescribed during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Current guidelines say that some steroid tablets, including prednisolone, can be taken during pregnancy.

Antibiotics & Steroids for Chest Infection

A bacterial chest infection often affects people with underlying health conditions, including those with weaker immune systems and those with a recent viral respiratory infection. Bacterial infections are often the main cause of pneumonia, but can also cause acute bronchitis. Bacterial chest infections are usually prescribed treatment with antibiotics. Bronchiectasis is thought to be predominantly a neutrophil driven disorder, and neutrophils are largely resistant to the anti-inflammatory effects of corticosteroids.

A blood clot can be very serious if it travels to your lungs (pulmonary embolism), although this isn’t common. You might have blood tests during cancer treatment to check for this. Your appetite will go back to normal when you stop steroids – but some people need to diet to lose the extra weight. If you do come into contact with someone who has them, tell your healthcare team straight away.

Managing side effects

The risk to your health is increased by drinking any amount of alcohol on a regular basis. The infections can also be spread to others if you cough or sneeze onto your hand, an object or a surface, and someone else shakes your hand or touches those surfaces before touching their mouth or nose. Discuss this with your physiotherapy department well in advance of the holiday and they may be able to lend you one.

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if you have a chest infection and:

This means infections are more difficult to diagnose at an early stage. There are limited cues for differentiating bacterial and viral pneumonia. Sometimes, antibiotics are also used long-term, not just for a 2 week course.

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In Scotland, SIGN have also produced antibiotic guidance for prescribers. The vaccine against the most common cause of pneumonia and yearly flu vaccines don’t interact with steroid tablets, as they’re not live vaccines. It’s important that you have these vaccinations to reduce your chances of getting these infections.

If a GP thinks you might have an underlying condition, they may also suggest that you have a lung function test. You only need to see your GP if your symptoms are severe or unusual. Chronic bronchitis is a daily productive cough that lasts for 3 months of the year and for at least 2 years in a row.

Professor Brown qualified as a doctor in 1988 and has been a consultant respiratory physician at University College London Hospitals since 2003. He has a particular interest in lung infection, an area in which he has published many research and review articles. As well as his clinical practice he leads a research group at University College London investigating how pneumonia develops and new vaccines and other approaches to prevent lung infections. If you are pregnant and suspect that you might have a chest infection, you should visit your GP.


Dr Katy Hester, website author, is funded by a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Doctoral Research Fellowship. This website includes a summary of independent research funded by the NIHR. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.

What is a bacterial chest infection?

These include a tablet called azithromycin, and nebulised antibiotics such as gentamicin and colomycin. The antibiotics used will vary depending on which bugs there are in your sputum. This is why it is important to give a phlegm sample when you notice things changing, so that your doctor knows which antibiotics would be best for you to have. You can then start a course of antibiotics without having to wait for the results.