Respiratory tract system is one of the most important mechanisms of the human body, which helps in breathing. This system consists of a trachea or wind pipe and a pair of lungs. Like all the other systems in the body, respiratory system is also affected by certain infections, since it is exposed to external factors, in comparison to the rest of the body systems. The respiratory tract infection can be classified under two categories namely; lower and upper respiratory infection. Lower respiratory infection (LRI) which is also referred to as lower respiratory tract infection, is a type of infection that affects the lower respiratory tract and is more serious than upper respiratory tract infections.
Lower Respiratory Infection in Children
Though children are mostly affected by upper respiratory infection like cold and cough, the severity of this respiratory infection varies according to the age of the child. You can observe the following symptoms
- If a newborn baby is affected by this infection, then he may show symptoms like irritability, fever and cough and poor feeding.
- In infants and toddlers, grunting, wheezy breathing and symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) may be seen.
- Older children show symptoms like abdominal and chest pain, vomiting followed by coughing, and viral infections like influenza (flu), etc.
Lower Respiratory Tract Infection Symptoms
There are two types of respiratory infections - bronchitis and pneumonia, which hampers breathing and may also lead to several other complications. The main causative factor is the presence of pathogens in the tract which may enter the body through polluted air, contaminated environment etc. Some common symptoms that show the onset of these infections are runny nose and sneezing, headache and sore throat. Apart from these, the symptoms of respiratory infection are also seen in a person suffering from either pneumonia or bronchitis
- Fever and chills
- Sinus infections
- Nausea and vomiting
- Common cold and cough with phlegm coming up.
- Traces of blood in the phlegm, which can be rusty or grayish green in color.
- Fever and acute body ache.
- Burning sensation in the eyes and sometimes watery eyes.
- Difficulty in breathing due to blocked nose.
- Scratchy or a pricking sensation in the throat.
- Loss of appetite and fatigue.
- Breathless and a feeling of tightness in the chest.
Risk Factors of Respiratory Infection
The signs which are similar to that of upper respiratory infection symptoms can be an indication of any serious disease. You must take care and consult your physician, if you notice the following complications:
- Recurrent cough that lasts for more than a month.
- Shortness of breath or chest pain, ranging from mild to severe.
- Wheezing or fast breathing.
- Severe headache and high fever.
Respiratory Infection Treatment
It is harder to diagnose respiratory infections, as they are caused due to both virus and bacterial growth in the lungs. In order to diagnose the presence of infection in the respiratory tract, a person may have to get a blood test or an X-ray to confirm the infection. The physician may prescribe the following methods of treatment, to the affected individual:
- In order to get rid of cold or cough, there are many over-the-counter (OTC) drugs like decongestant drops and sprays available.
- If lower respiratory tract infection is caused due to bacterial infestation, then the doctor may prescribe antibiotics like amoxicillin or procaine penicillin.
- In order to ease headache, body pain and fever, the doctor may also prescribe painkillers like paracetamol. If you are suffering from fever, make it a point to increase the intake of fluids, in order to avoid dehydration.
In some instances, this infection can also lead to acute lower respiratory infection (ALRI), a more serious condition if left untreated. So, it is advisable to consult a doctor, as soon as you observe the symptoms and go in for treatment in order to curb the infection. Stay healthy!