Chest infections are triggered by virus or bacteria. It is important to note that general anesthesia affects the mechanism on how phlegm is normally moved out of the lungs. The pain or discomfort from the operation might cause difficulty in taking deep breaths or coughing.
As an outcome, phlegm is likely to accumulate in the lungs. This increases the risk for infection to develop.
What are the indications of chest infections?
- Feeling unwell and tired
- Cough with thick yellow or greenish sputum
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Rapid breathing
- Confusion among the elderly but usually brief and likely to improve as chest infections settle
Do I have a post-operative chest infection?
The doctor will listen to the chest using a stethoscope in which extra crackles and wheezes can be heard. If a chest X-ray is taken, it can reveal the presence of a chest infection.
A blood test can also reveal that an individual has an infection. A sputum sample is also taken for analysis to determine the type of bacteria responsible for the infection. In some cases, the heart rate becomes rapid and the blood pressure drops. These are indications of a serious chest infection.
Who are at risk?
There are certain factors that increases the risk for a post-operative chest infections such as the following:
- Increased age usually over the age of 50
- Being overweight
- Diagnosed with a long-term health conditions such as diabetes, asthma, kidney disease or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Those who smoke
- Weakened immune system
- Being immobile after a surgical procedure