What is Respiratory Tract Infection?
Respiratory tract infection are infections that attack the human respiratory tract. This condition can be caused by virus or bacteria. There are two types of infections in the human respiratory tract:
- Upper respiratory tract infections (URI / URTI), which include nasal cavities, sinuses (cavities containing air around the cheeks, nose and eyes), pharynx (located behind the nose and mouth), and larynx throat). This infection can result in colds disease, sinus inflammation or sinusitis, tonsillitis or tonsillitis, inflammation of the vocal cords or laryngitis, and influenza.
- Lower respiratory tract infections (LRI / LRTI), which include trachea (throat), bronchi, bronchioles, and lungs. This infection can result in diseases such as inflammation of the bronchial tubes or bronchitis, bronchiolitis, influenza, tuberculosis and pneumonia.
The most common cases of respiratory infections found in adults and children are colds. Respiratory tract infections can be spread through direct or indirect contact so it is important to know what are the causes, symptoms, and treatment of this infection.
Causes of Respiratory Tract Infection
Respiratory tract infections can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or other organisms. Secondary bacterial infection can also occur in people with upper respiratory tract infection and below.
Respiratory tract infections can be spread by air or touch. You can catch an infection when inhaling air containing splashes from a sneezing or coughing patient. Infections can also be contagious if you have previously touched the nose or eyes and then touched the surface of an object, which then the other person touched the object. In addition to residence, transmission of respiratory infections occurs in public facilities, such as at school and day care, so the level of hygiene in this area needs to be kept as good as possible.
Here are the types of respiratory infections and viruses that cause it.
- Upper respiratory tract infections, most of these cases are caused by coronavirus and rhinovirus infections. Other viruses that may contribute to upper respiratory tract infections are adenovirus, coxsackieviruses, myxovirus, and paramyxovirus (parainfluenza, respiratory syncytial virus).
- Lower respiratory tract infections can be caused by bacteria and viruses. Viruses that cause respiratory infections are influenza A, human metapneumovirus (hMPV), varicella-zoster virus (VZV) or chicken pox, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) viruses. These viruses are the most common cause of inpatient cases in children. In addition to viruses, bacteria can also cause infections of the respiratory tract. Some of these bacteria include H. influenza, streptococcus pneumonia, klebsiella pneumonia, staphylococcus aureus, various anaerobic bacteria, and enterobacteria species such as Escherichia coli. Streptococcus pneumonia bacterial infection is the bacteria contributor most cases of pneumonia in patients with respiratory tract infections. Bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis can also infect the lower airway and cause tuberculosis.
- Unclassified organisms can also cause infections of the respiratory tract, namely mycoplasma pneumoniae, legionella pneumophila, chlamydophila pneumonia, and coxiella burnetii.
Children are generally very susceptible to respiratory infections and viruses are more likely to stay in their bodies. This is because the immune system of children who have not perfect.
Symptoms of Respiratory Tract Infection
The most common symptoms of a respiratory tract infection are coughing. However, different symptoms may also accompany respiratory tract infections, such as:
- Upper respiratory tract infections, generally have symptoms such as nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, muscle aches, and sore throat. Other symptoms that may arise are loss of olfactory and taste, pressure on the ears, mild sore on the eyes, and fever.
- Lower respiratory tract infections may have symptoms of coughing up phlegm, increased respiratory rhythm, shortness of breath or shortness of breath, chest tightness, and wheezing. Other symptoms that may arise are repeated fever, difficulty eating, and sleep deprivation in infants and children.
Other symptoms to watch out for include a cough that lasts for weeks, pain in the chest, weight loss, to a bloody cough that could be the cause of wet lungs or pneumonia. Immediately see a doctor to confirm the diagnosis and medical treatment.
Diagnosis of Respiratory Tract Infection
In addition to observing the symptoms that appear, such as fever, the diagnosis of respiratory infections can be done by examining and observing the patient’s physical condition. Your doctor may measure and monitor blood oxygen levels, or perform pulse oximetry. This method is useful to know if a person has a respiratory disorder by looking at oxygen saturated levels. For example, in conditions of pneumonia, oxygen saturation levels can reach 95 percent or less.
The doctor will also observe and calculate the respiratory rate by age, chest movements during breathing, or tuberculin skin tests to determine the risk of tuberculosis, chest radiographs, urine tests, to blood tests to confirm the diagnosis of respiratory tract infections.
Treatment of Respiratory Tract Infection
Most cases of upper respiratory tract infections can be self-treated at home. For example with painkillers that can be purchased freely, such as ibuprofen or paracetamol, or simply by increasing the rest and fluid intake. This treatment aims to reduce symptoms of a mild upper respiratory tract infection. Usually upper respiratory tract infection will heal within for 1-2 weeks. In other cases, antibiotics are recommended to treat respiratory infections caused by bacteria.
For home care, upper respiratory tract infections can also be treated with cough medicine or using a mixture of honey and lemon. Vapour rubs or vapor-releasing gel can help relieve nasal congestion in children and babies over the age of three months. Some supplements and herbal medicines can be used as an alternative treatment, but it is advisable to consult a doctor first. You are also not encouraged to try other methods of treatment without the knowledge and permission of a doctor.
Patients with lower respiratory tract infections, such as pneumonia, can mostly be treated as outpatients or through antibiotic treatments. So also with bronchitis patients due to viral infection, still allowed to get treatment at home. Antibiotics used will be adjusted to the condition and physical response of the patient. One antibiotic that is friendly for children sufferers is amoxicillin. However, this decision remains based on a doctor’s diagnosis so that there is a possibility that the patient may be referred to as an inpatient. This option is taken especially when antibiotics can not function optimally against child sufferers.
In case of a respiratory tract infection, call your doctor immediately if you have other conditions that may be present, such as:
- Have heart disease, liver, lung, or kidney before infection of respiratory diseases.
- Experiencing symptoms of pneumonia like a slimy cough with blood
- Long-term lung disease (chronic) such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
- Suffering from bronchiectasis and cystic fibrosis
- Have a weak immune system or lose weight,
- Have conditions that affect the nervous system like multiple sclerosis
- Cough that has lasted for more than three weeks
- There is chest pain
- There is a lump in the neck
Complications of Respiratory Tract Infection
Respiratory infections that are not treated promptly can cause complications or trigger secondary bacterial infections in the lower respiratory tract. In childhood sufferers, upper respiratory tract infections can develop into pneumonia, bronchitis, and inflammation of the larynx and trachea that make the child difficult to breathe. Asthma can get worse and people with chronic lung disease risk becoming more difficult to handle.
Lower respiratory tract infections should be treated thoroughly to avoid complications, such as lung abscess, respiratory failure, hypoxia, and death in patients. Immediately see a doctor if you have a history of heart failure or are currently on treatment for other diseases at the same time.
Prevention of Respiratory Tract Infection
Starting a habit of maintaining hygiene and self-health and the environment is the first step in effective prevention of respiratory infections. Habits such as hand washing, wearing gloves, and using a mask can help reduce the transmission of the disease. Patients can minimize contact with others to prevent the spread of respiratory infections, especially in children. Use your own towel and do not lend it to anyone else.
Vaccine administration can be done in people with lower respiratory tract infections who also have lung or heart disease at the same time. Stop smoking if you are a smoker because it can increase the risk of respiratory infections in children.