HomeDiseaseCOVID-19Respiratory infection: symptoms, causes and treatment

Respiratory infection: symptoms, causes and treatment

Respiratory infection is an infection that arises in any region of the respiratory tract and that can reach from the upper airways, such as nostrils, throat or facial bones, to the lower airways, such as bronchi and lungs.

Generally, this type of infection is caused by viruses, bacteria or fungi and causes symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, cough, fever or sore throat, for example. These infections are more common in winter, as it is the period in which there is the greatest circulation of microorganisms, since the temperature becomes lower and there is a greater tendency to stay indoors.

High respiratory infections are the most common and are usually contagious, especially those caused by viruses, which are easily spread in places with crowds of people, such as schools, daycare centers or on the bus, for example. Low infections, which affect the bronchi and lungs, tend to be more severe and affect people at higher risk, such as babies, children, the elderly and in people with compromised immunity.

Main symptoms

The most common symptoms of a respiratory infection are:

  • Coryza;
  • Intense cough, which may contain secretion or not;
  • Stuffy nose;
  • General malaise;
  • Fever;
  • Lung pain;
  • Headache;

The sensation of shortness of breath can appear in some cases, however this is a sign that can indicate that the infection is getting worse and, therefore, it is recommended to make a medical evaluation at the hospital, in order to start the best type of treatment.

How to confirm the diagnosis

In order to diagnose respiratory infection, it is usually only necessary to have an evaluation by the doctor, who will identify the symptoms and make a physical evaluation, with auscultation of the lungs and observation of the pharynx, for example.

In cases of suspected more serious infections, such as pneumonia, COVID-19 or tuberculosis, or when there are doubts about the cause of the symptoms, other tests, such as a chest x-ray, blood test or blood test, may be necessary. sputum, to identify the microorganism that generated the infection and thus decide on the most suitable treatment.

Possible causes

There is not only one type of respiratory infection, but several infections that can reach the respiratory tract, some milder and others more serious. Some of the examples of the most common causes of respiratory infections include:

  1. Common cold or flu: it is an infection caused by viruses, causing cough, runny nose, sneezing and nasal obstruction. In influenza, there is infection by influenza-like viruses, which cause more intense symptoms, such as body pain and fever.

    Antifungals can also be used, but only when there is a suspicion that the cause of infection is by fungi.

    In addition, people admitted to the hospital may need respiratory physiotherapy to remove the pulmonary secretions and thus relieve the discomfort that the disease causes.

    How to avoid

    To avoid respiratory infections, it is recommended to avoid crowded places, contact with infected people and always wash your hands and avoid placing objects in your nose or mouth, as they are the main forms of contagion.

    It is also recommended to keep the immune system balanced, which is facilitated with a balanced diet, rich in vegetables, grains and antioxidants, such as vitamin C, present in fruits. In addition, avoiding very humid environments, with excessive dust, molds and mites is recommended to avoid allergies, which can be accompanied by an infection.

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