A chesty cough is often described as being wet and phlegm-filled, making the chest feel heavy, and a person may cough up mucus or phlegm. It will often start with a sore throat and the cough often follows.
While a cough usually clears up on its own within three to four weeks, going about your every day life during the time it takes better can prove difficult.
There’s usually no need to see a GP with a chesty cough, so what can you do in the meantime to relieve the symptoms and what should you avoid?
According to Dr Andrew Thornber, chief medical officer at Now Patient, antibiotics should be avoided.
He said: “A chesty cough is one which expels mucus or phlegm from the chest and occurs when our body expels any excess phlegm out of our respiratory system.
“This is often caused by an over-production of mucus due to viral infections such as the cold or flu.
“Antibiotics is not a suitable treatment.”
A study carried out by reachers from a number of institutions in Europe, including the University of Southampton and Cardiff University in the UK, found little point in taking antibiotics for coughs.
The study found antibiotics didn’t shorten the time people had symptoms for, nor did they reduce the severity of respiratory symptoms.
The NHS advises: “Antibiotics do not work for viral infections such as colds and flu, and most coughs and sore throats.
“Antibiotics are no longer routinely used to treat chest infections, ear infections in children and sore throats.
“When it comes to antibiotics, take your doctor’s advice on whether you need them or not.
“Antibiotic resistance is a big problem – taking antibiotics when you do not need them can mean they will not work for you in the future.”
The NHS says you should see a GP if you’ve had a cough for more than three weeks or your cough is very bad or quickly gets worse.
You should also see a doctor if you feel very unwell, have chest pain, if you’re losing weight for no reason, the side of your neck feels swollen and painful, if you find it hard to breathe, and if you have a weakened immune system, for example, because of chemotherapy or diabetes.
If you’re coughing up blood yo should see your GP urgently.