top of page


What is an acute respiratory infection?

Acute respiratory infection is an infection that may interfere with normal breathing. It can affect just your upper respiratory system, which starts at your sinuses and ends at your vocal chords. It can also affect just your lower respiratory system, which starts at your vocal chords and ends at your lungs.

This infection is particularly dangerous for children, older adults, and people with  weakened immune system .

The vast majority of upper respiratory infections are caused by viruses and do not initially require antibiotics, however seveer bacterial infections caused by MRSA , Streptococcus Pneumoniae can also occur and become rapidly life threatening if the appropriate antibiotics are not administered.

What are the symptoms of acute respiratory infection?

The symptoms you experience will be different if it’s a lower or upper respiratory infection. Symptoms can include:

  • congestion, either in the nasal sinuses or lungs

  • runny nose

  • cough

  • sore throat

  • body aches

  • fatigue

Call your doctor if you experience

  • a fever over 103˚ F (39˚ C) and chills

  • difficulty breathing

  • dizziness

  • loss of consciousness

What causes acute respiratory infection?

There are several different causes of acute respiratory infection.

Causes of upper respiratory infection:

Causes of lower respiratory infection:

Who is at risk for acute respiratory infection?

It’s almost impossible to avoid viruses and bacteria, but certain risk factors increase your chances of developing acute respiratory infection. The immune systems of children and older adults are more prone to being affected by viruses. Children are especially at risk because of their constant contact with other kids who could be virus carriers. Children often don’t wash their hands regularly. They are also more likely to rub their eyes and put their fingers in their mouths, resulting in the spread of viruses.

People with heart disease 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.

How is acute respiratory infection diagnosed?

In a respiratory exam, the doctor focuses on your breathing. They will check for fluid and inflammation in the lungs by listening for abnormal sounds in your lungs when you breathe. The doctor may peer into your nose and ears, and check your throat. If your doctor believes the infection is in the lower respiratory tract, an X-ray or CT scan may be necessary to check the condition of the lungs.

Lung function tests have been useful as diagnostic tools. Pulse oximetry, also known as pulse ox, can check how much oxygen gets into the lungs. A physician may also take a swab from your nose or mouth, or ask you to cough up a sputum (material coughed up from the lungs) sample to check for the type of virus or bacteria causing the disease. We can do a respiratory panel to check the genetic material, DNA of a variety of microorganisms 

Sometimes, despite the best effort of the doctor, a definitive diagnosis can not be attained and it is important  to provide every relevant piece of information to your doctor to help him guide your treatment and decide which tests are appropriate and indicated

How is acute respiratory infection treated?

With many viruses, there are no known treatments. Your doctor may prescribe medications to manage your symptoms while monitoring your condition. If your doctor suspects a bacterial infection, they may prescribe antibiotics.

Preventing acute respiratory infection

Most causes of an acute respiratory infection aren’t treatable. Therefore, prevention is the best method to ward off harmful respiratory infections. Getting the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) and pertussis vaccine will substantially lower your risk of getting a respiratory infection.

The other ones to mention are influenza vaccination and pneumovax. Can review for whom each is recommended, or say talk to your doctor about getting these.

Practice Good Hygiene:

  • Wash your hands frequently, especially after you’ve been in a public place.

  • Always sneeze into the arm of your shirt or in a tissue. Although this may not ease your own symptoms, it will prevent you from spreading infectious diseases.

  • Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes and mouth, to prevent introducing germs into your system.

  • Vaccination against INFLUENZA  and  STREPTOCOCCUS PNEUMONIAE can reduce the incidence or severity of these potentially life threatening infections.We recommend you discuss with your healthcare provider 

You should also avoid smoking and make sure you include plenty of vitamins in your diet, such as vitamin C, which helps boost your immune system.


Consult a doctor for medical advice or visit us at PEOPLE CARE INSTITUTE for more information


Note: The information you see here is general and describes what usually happens with a medical condition, but doesn't apply to everyone. This information IS NOT  a substitute for professional medical advice, so please  make sure to contact a healthcare provider if you have a medical problem. 


bottom of page