A respiratory tract infection or RTI is an infection that may take place in the lungs, throat, or sinuses. These infections are one of the most common reasons why people see a pharmacist or a general practitioner.
The most widespread infection of the respiratory tract is none other than the common cold.
There are two types of RTIs based on where the infection occurs:
- Upper RTI: This affects the throat, sinuses, and the nose.
- Lower RTI: This affects the lungs and the airways.
Younger kids have more respiratory infections than older people because their immunity is not yet developed.
What Causes Respiratory Infections?
Depending on the infection, it may be due to a virus or bacterium. Some RTIs are caused by one type of virus even though they are different infections. For example, a specific virus from a cold can also cause you to have throat infections, laryngitis, sinusitis, or middle ear infection. Meanwhile, bacteria that cause RTIs can cause serious infections, which include pertussis (also known as whooping cough) and pneumonia. There are also cases where a type of bacteria can cause another infection after an infection caused by a virus.
RTIs are easily spread and there are many ways on how they affect other people, including a cold. Sometimes, the droplets of fluid from the cold virus are spread into the air whenever you cough or sneeze. People who breathe them in could become infected.
You could also experience RTIs if you make indirect contact with a virus or bacteria that can cause the infection. For instance, if someone around you has a cold and he or she touches his nose or eyes, and then touches a surface or any object, the virus could easily be spread. Touch that surface of object and you could get the cold virus, too.
Who Are At Risk?
Anyone can have a respiratory tract infection. However, there are people who are exposed to a higher level of danger because of some risk factors, including being younger than five old, those who are born with circulatory or heart issues, people older than 65 years old, those who stay at nursing homes, people with diabetes, pregnant women, and those who are very obese.
It is also important to remember that although there are antibiotics that can help you fight RTIs, but they will only work if the problem is caused by bacteria. However, there are people who have poor health and they will still benefit from antibiotics even though the cause of the infection is a virus.