The early symptoms of acute respiratory infection usually appear in the nose and upper lungs. Other symptoms include:
If the disease advances, there may be high fever and chills. Other serious symptoms are
Although some causes of the condition are unknown, a few have been identified. They are as follows.
In a respiratory exam, the doctor focuses on the patient’s breathing. Breath sounds in the lungs are checked for fluid and inflammation. The doctor may peer into the nose and check the throat.
If diagnosed early, over-the-counter medications can help alleviate symptoms while the virus runs its course. However, if the infection is advanced, an X-ray or CT scan (computer tomography) may be needed to check the condition of the lungs. Lung function tests have shown to be useful as diagnostic tools and for prognosis purposes. Pulse oximetry, also known as pulse ox, may be used to check how much oxygen gets into the lungs. A physician may also need a sputum (material coughed up from the lungs) sample to check for the type of virus causing the disease.
While it is almost impossible to avoid viruses and bacteria, certain risk factors increase the likelihood of developing acute respiratory infection. The immune systems of children and the elderly are more prone to be affected by viruses. Children are especially at risk because of their constant contact with other kids who could be virus carriers. Children often do not wash their hands regularly, rub their eyes, and put their fingers in their mouths, resulting in the spread of viruses.
People with heart diseases or other lung problems are more likely to contract an acute respiratory infection. Anyone whose immune system might be weakened by another disease is at risk. Smokers also are at high risk and have more trouble recovering from it.
Complications of acute respiratory infection are extremely serious and can result in permanent damage and even death. They include:
Most causes of an acute respiratory infection are not treatable. Therefore, prevention is the best method to ward off harmful respiratory infections. Practice good hygiene by doing the following:
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