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Acute Respiratory Infections: Causes, Symptoms and Prevention

Experiencing symptoms like running nose, congestion, body ache and cough along with fever and difficulty in breathing? Then do not neglect it, there is a high chance that you may be suffering from acute respiratory infections. Unfortunately, incidents of acute respiratory infections are increasing these days and these infections can affect people of all age groups equally. This is a contagious infection, if left untreated the infection can spread to the entire respiratory system and is particularly dangerous among children, older adults and people with weak immunity. Therefore knowing about it is very important.

Frequently asked questions
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Difference between Bronchitis and Pneumonia?


Acute Respiratory Infections

Acute respiratory infection in simple words is a viral infection that interferes with normal breathing. This infection can affect your both upper respiratory system (which starts at your sinuses and ends at vocal cords) and lower respiratory system (which starts at vocal cords and ends at the lungs). Most of the times, it begins as a viral infection in the nose, trachea or in the lungs.

Acute respiratory infection as discussed earlier, is highly contagious and spread easily by inhaling respiratory droplets of the infected person from sneezing and coughing. This acute respiratory infection is a serious condition and needs medical assistance because it interferes with normal breathing due to which our body fails to get enough oxygen.

Causes of Acute Respiratory Infections

Acute respiratory infections are caused due to several virus and bacteria.

Viral causes of acute respiratory infection include

  • Adenoviruses (are also said to cause cold, bronchitis and pneumonia)
  • Rhinoviruses
  • Influenza virus
  • Enterovirus
  • Respiratory syncytial virus

Bacterial causes of acute respiratory infection include

  • Pneumococcus
  • Bordetella pertussis
  • Corynebacterium diphtheria
  • Streptococcus pyogenes
  • Haemophilus influenza

People with low immunity, with lung disorders and heart problems are more at risk of developing acute respiratory infections.

Symptoms of Acute Respiratory Infections

People with acute respiratory infections experience symptoms like

  • Runny nose
  • Congestion (in the lungs or nasal sinuses)
  • Itchy and watery eyes
  • Persistent cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sore throat
  • Sneezing
  • Headache
  • Fever and chills
  • Fatigue

Contact a doctor immediately if people with acute respiratory infections experience symptoms like difficulty breathing, dizziness and loss of consciousness.

Complications of Acute Respiratory Infections

If left untreated or if the disease progress, it can result in permanent damage and can also be fatal. Few complications of acute respiratory infections include

  • Respiratory arrest (lungs stops functioning)
  • Respiratory failure
  • Congestive heart failure

Tips to prevent Acute Respiratory Infections

Prevention is always the best solution to reduce the risk of harmful disorders like acute respiratory infections. Below are a few simple tips which helps to reduce your risk of acute respiratory infections

  • Avoid close contact with infected people or people who are sick
  • Be hygienic, wash your hands frequently
  • Do not touch your face, nose and mouth without washing your hands to prevent virus and bacteria entering your body
  • Sneeze into arm or tissues to prevent the disease from spreading
  • Boost your immune system by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly