Common Types Of Respiratory Infections And Their Symptoms

Common Types Of Respiratory Infections And Their Symptoms

Common Types Of Respiratory Infections And Their Symptoms


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    Are you feeling under the weather and worried it might be more than just a passing cold? Here are some of the common respiratory infections and their symptoms. You can make claims for negligence if poorly treated infection has caused you further avoidable suffering.

    Respiratory Infections

    What Is A Respiratory Infection?

    Also known as Respiratory Tract Infection (RTI), it is an infectious disease which affects the respiratory system (including the throat, sinuses, lungs or airways).

    Core respiratory tract infection symptoms include coughing, sneezing, runny nose, excess mucus, etc.

    Types of Respiratory Infections

    • Upper Respiratory Infection

    • Lower Respiratory Infection

    Upper Respiratory Infection

    An upper respiratory infection (URI) is a respiratory infection that affects the upper areas of the respiratory system. They usually affect the sinuses, (nasal passages) and throat. Some of the symptoms include cough, runny nose as a result of excess mucus and sore throat.

    These infections most times go away on their own without any form of treatment. However, they can also be treated by drinking fluids and taking over-the-counter pain relievers as well as getting enough rest.

    How Does a URI Happen?

    An upper tract infection usually occurs when a bacteria or virus enters the body either from the nose or mouth. These infections can be contagious through touch or when one comes in contact with or inhales respiratory droplets from the sneeze or cough of an infected person. Aside from chronic conditions such as asthma, simple treatments can be enough to take care of these infections.

    Children because of their not well-developed immune systems usually have more of these infections while adults have less frequent URIs. Also, children are more prone to have these infections when they play or spend a lot of time with kids who have these infections.

    Children are also less likely to adopt basic hygiene practices such as hand washing after sneezing, wiping their noses when necessary, or using a handkerchief when they cough.

    Another set of people who are at risk of a URI are people who have heart or lung problems. Additionally, those who have weak immune systems (due to another disease) are also at risk of even more severe infections.

    URIs tend to spread in enclosed places with lots of people including homes, offices and classrooms.

    Upper respiratory infections include:

    • Common cold

    • Epiglottitis

    • Laryngitis

    • Pharyngitis (sore throat).

    • Sinusitis (sinus infection).

    • Tonsillitis

    • Laryngitis

    Symptoms of URI

    Common symptoms of upper respiratory infection include:

    • Coughing

    • Discomfort in the nasal passages including nasal congestion

    • A mild fever

    • Excess mucus and runny nose

    • Pain or pressure within the face

    • A scratchy or sore throat

    • Sneezing

    Other symptoms can include:

    • Bad breath

    • Body aches

    • A headache

    • Loss of the sense of smell

    • Itchy eyes

    Generally, symptoms start between 1-3 days after an individual comes in contact with an infected person with the infection lasting about 7–10 days.

    Lower Respiratory Infections

    Lower respiratory infections are infections in the airways, lungs or below the voice box. These infections are usually more serious and last longer than upper respiratory infections. These infections include pneumonia, bronchitis, and tuberculosis.

    In the case of bronchitis, the infection affects the airways while the air sacs at the end of the airways.

    Lower Respiratory Infections include;

    • Bronchitis, an inflammation that affects the lungs

    • Bronchiolitis, lung infection in children and infants majorly caused by virus

    • Chest infection

    • Pneumonia

    • Tuberculosis

    The symptoms of lower respiratory tract infections are different and are usually an indicator of how severe the infection is.

    In less severe infections, symptoms can mimic those of the common cold and include;

    • Stuffed up or a runny nose

    • Dry cough

    • Fever

    • Mild sore throat

    • Dull headache

    Symptoms in very severe cases include;

    • A severe cough that may produce phlegm

    • High fever

    • Difficulty in breathing or rapid breathing

    • A blue tint to the skin

    • Chest pain

    • Wheezing

    Usually, lower respiratory tract infections are caused by the following;

    • Viruses which include flu or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)

    • Bacteria, e.g. Streptococcus or Staphylococcus aureus

    • Fungal infections

    • Mycoplasma- these small organisms have the characteristics of both viruses and bacteria but are neither of them

    In addition, there are substances from the environment which when inhaled can irritate or cause inflammation in the airways or the lungs, subsequently resulting in an infection. These include:

    • Dust

    • Chemicals

    • Tobacco smoke

    • Vapers and fumes

    • Allergens

    • Air pollution

    Who Is At Risk Of A Lower Respiratory Tract Infection?

    People in the following categories are more likely to develop a lower respiratory infection.

    • Someone with a recent cold or flu

    • A person with weakened immune system

    • Adults more than 65 years old

    • Children under 5 years old

    • A person who has had a recent surgery

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    Common Types Of Upper Respiratory Tract Infections And The Symptoms


    The epiglottis is the top part of your trachea, your breathing tube or windpipe and is found at the base of the tongue far back in the mouth. Inflammation of the epiglottis can be a serious issue blocking the airway and leading to difficulty in breathing.

    Symptoms of epiglottitis include:

    • Difficulty breathing or swallowing.

    • Fever.

    • Severe sore throat.


    Laryngitis is simply the inflammation of the voice box (the larynx is known as the voice box). Laryngitis can be referred to as a viral upper respiratory tract infection as it is caused by a virus infecting the upper airways.

    Symptoms of laryngitis include;

    • Change in voice

    • Voice may become very hoarse.

    • You may only be able to talk at a very low volume.

    • You may lose your voice entirely.

    • Fever

    • Difficulty swallowing

    • Sore throat


    This is commonly known as a sore throat, and it is another viral upper respiratory tract infection. However, a type of sore throat known as strep throat also be caused by the group A Streptococcus bacterium.

    The strep throat bacteria is usually common among children between the ages of 5 and 15.

    Symptoms of a pharyngitis may include:

    • Swollen red tonsils

    • Severe throat pain

    • Difficulty swallowing and speaking

    • Ear pain


    Sinusitis, also referred to as sinus infection, is very common. It is simply the inflammation of the sinuses. Sinuses are hollow spaces located behind the bones of your face. There are various parts of the human face where you can find sinuses including cheeks, behind your forehead and eyebrows, beyond your nose, in front of your brain; as well as on the sides of your nose bridge.

    Sinuses are viral infections and symptoms include;

    • Green mucus from your nose.

    • you may feel mucus dripping into your throat (Postnasal drip)

    • Stuffiness or congestion.

    • Pain when you press on your face, especially on the bones right below your eyes.

    • Bad breath.

    • Fever

    • Tiredness

    • Cough

    • Headaches

    You May Have A Claim

    If you or your loved one has suffered from any respiratory tract infection which has been poorly managed by your healthcare providers, leading to avoidable pain or complications, you may have grounds to make a claim.

    You can reach out to us via our helplines to discuss your situation. Over the years our partnered medical negligence solicitors have represented clients who suffered from doctor’s negligence. Remember that you have a limited time to make your claims, bring your claims at the earliest time possible.

    We offer a completely free, no-obligation consultation call to see if we can connect you to an expert law firm to assist with your potential claim. We are a claims management company and are paid by our partnered law firms for the service that we provide.

    We hope to hear from you soon.

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