Respiratory Tract Infections
- Classify respiratory tract diseases, their causes, and the pattern of associated symptoms.
- How are infections of upper respiratory tract different from those of lower respiratory tract?
- Why are infections of the upper respiratory tract milder as compared to those pertaining to the lower respiratory tract?
- Describe the curative methods for each of upper and lower respiratory tract infections.
- What are three specific factors of the immune system that help to clear the lower lung of infectious agents?
Respiratory infections are infections that affect the respiratory system, which includes the nose, throat, sinuses, bronchi, and lungs. There are many different types of respiratory tract infections, including:
- Common cold: A viral infection that affects the upper respiratory tract, typically causing symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat, and cough.
- Influenza (flu): A viral infection that can affect the upper or lower respiratory tract, causing symptoms such as fever, chills, cough, and body aches.
- Pneumonia: A bacterial, viral, or fungal infection that affects the lungs, causing symptoms such as cough, fever, chest pain, and shortness of breath.
- Bronchitis: An infection of the bronchial tubes, which carry air to the lungs, causing symptoms such as coughing, chest discomfort, and shortness of breath.
- Sinusitis: An infection of the sinuses, which are air-filled cavities in the skull, causing symptoms such as facial pain, headache, and nasal congestion.
- Tuberculosis: A bacterial infection that primarily affects the lungs, causing symptoms such as cough, chest pain, and fever.
Respiratory infections can be caused by a variety of pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Some infections can be prevented through vaccination, hand washing, and avoiding contact with infected individuals. Treatment options vary depending on the type and severity of the infection and may include antibiotics, antiviral medications, or supportive care such as rest, hydration, and over-the-counter medications to relieve symptoms.
Causes of Respiratory Tract Infections
Respiratory infections can be caused by various pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Some common causes of respiratory tract infections are:
- Viruses: Many respiratory infections are caused by viruses, including the common cold, influenza (flu), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and coronavirus (including COVID-19).
- Bacteria: Bacterial infections that can cause respiratory infections include Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, and Mycoplasma pneumoniae.
- Fungi: Fungal infections such as aspergillosis and histoplasmosis can also cause respiratory tract infections, especially in people with weakened immune systems.
- Environmental factors: Environmental factors such as air pollution, cigarette smoke, and allergens can also irritate the respiratory tract and increase the risk.
- Occupational exposure: People who work in certain occupations, such as healthcare workers and farmers, may be at increased risk due to exposure to pathogens.
- Age and health status: Infants, young children, and older adults, as well as people with weakened immune systems, chronic diseases, or other underlying health conditions, may be at increased risk.
- Transmission: They can also be transmitted through contact with contaminated surfaces, droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze, or close contact with an infected person.