4 Common Respiratory Tract Infections

With the sudden outburst of coronavirus, people are cautious of viral infections more than ever. But coronavirus is not all we have to worry about when it comes to respiratory tract infections. With the poor immunity in the middle of the pandemic and the winter months approaching us, we need to spread awareness about respiratory tract infections.

As a COVID-19 survivor, I am extra conscious of my respiratory tract health. So I consulted my doctor who is an Infectious Disease Specialist in Islamabad about the different respiratory tract infections I need to be careful about. Here is what is I learned:

Common Cold

I am pretty sure that each one of us has had a common cold at least once in life. It happens because of the inflammation of the mucous membrane that lines the nose. With the initial symptoms like a scratchy throat followed by fever or flu or both and then eventually turns into whooping cough as its later stages, if left untreated. The medical name for the common cold is viral rhinitis. And it can last from a few days to a few weeks.


The only practical preventive measure you can take is to keep your hand sanitized at all times. Wash your hands regularly and try to keep the things closer to you like your phone, doorknobs, shelves, etc. disinfected.


The complete and effective treatment for the common cold is still a mystery. However, doctors usually prescribe medications for other symptoms like flu. The only thing you can do is take rest and take preventive measures.


When the membrane lining sinuses get inflamed, it causes sinusitis. The common symptom is feeling uncontrollable pressure on the face. The different affected points on the face tell about the specific type of sinus. It can cause either viral or bacterial infection. In the bones surrounding your eyes and nose, the sinuses are just like small caves. They are lined with membranes that create thin, watery mucus that flows, called Ostia, through small openings. Fluid and mucus accumulate if those Ostia remain blocked, providing a good, comfortable place for growing bacteria that are normally present. The body responds with inflammation and swelling to the rising levels that cause painful pressure or other signs.


As for prevention, the same preventive as of the common cold applies. Also do not blow your nose too strongly as it can make bacteria and mucus settle in your sinuses.


In common cases, doctors prescribe antibiotic therapy but before that, it is important you try to drain sinuses because it makes the healing process effective and fast. You can drain sinuses by inhaling steam and using a high pillow under your head while sleeping.


It is a viral infection where there is inflammation in the bronchial tubes connecting our windpipe to the lungs. In layman’s terms, it is called a chest cold. It is usually way more serious than your regular cough. The cough is dry and often discharges sputum while coughing. Sputum can be clear, yellow, or green in color. You may experience wheezing and/or chest tightness due to inflamed bronchi. It can last up to several months to heal properly if leaves irritated bronchi. It can be due to some underlying respiratory disorder too.


You can get whooping cough shots before it gets serious.


Since bronchitis is almost always a viral infection so antibiotics are NOT a solution. However, inhaling humid air might help.


It happens when there is inflammation deep in the lungs, affecting air sacks and the surrounding tissues. Common symptoms include fever, cough, weakness, and chills. It deprives your body of oxygen. It can be both bacterial or viral infection but mostly treated as a bacterial infection.


There are different vaccines available for pneumonia for people of different age groups. Other than that you can get annual flu shots that will prevent you from not only pneumonia but various other respiratory tract infections.


Doctors usually prescribe antibiotics as soon as it gets diagnosed. People with high risk and other underlying diseases may get hospitalized.


When it comes to respiratory tract infections, prevention is the best measure. Try to quit smoking if you are a smoker. Take supplements and multivitamins like vitamin C to boost your immune system.

Meta Description: Respiratory tract infections can be both viral and bacterial. The most common ones are the common cold, sinusitis, bronchitis, and pneumonia. Here we discuss their symptoms, preventions, and treatments.