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What is a chest infection and what causes it? Acute bronchitis This is an infection of the large airways in the lungs (bronchi). Acute bronchitis is common and is often due to a viral infection. Infection with a germ (bacterium) is a less common cause. Pneumonia This is a serious infection of the lung. Treatment with medicines called antibiotics is usually needed. How common are chest infections? Chest infections are very common, especially during the autumn and winter. They often occur after a cold or flu. Anyone can get a chest infection but they are more common in: Young children and the elderly. People who smoke. People with long-term chest problems such as asthma. What are the symptoms of a chest infection? The main symptoms are a chesty cough, breathing difficulties and chest pain. You may also have headaches and have a high temperature (fever). The symptoms of an infection of the large airways (bronchi) in the lungs (acute bronchitis) and a serious lung infection (pneumonia) may be similar; however, pneumonia symptoms are usually more severe
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