BRANDED GENERICS
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RESPIRATORY TRACT INFECTIONS

 

Treatment

People experiencing respiratory tract infections are generally advised to rest. People with lower respiratory tract infections should visit a doctor if they are 65 years of age or over (this is particularly important), or have/experience any of the following:

  • Blood in the mucus and phlegm on coughing (this may be a sign of pneumonia).
  • A cough persisting for more than three weeks.
  • Weight loss.
  • Chest pain.
  • Lumps in the neck.
  • A medical history of heart, lung, liver, or kidney disease.
  • A current long-term lung disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma.
  • Cystic fibrosis or bronchiectasis.

Antibiotics

Most respiratory tract infections are caused by viruses.12 Treatment of viral infections is aimed at addressing the symptoms of the infection – there is no need for antibiotics.13 However, if a bacterial infection also develops during the course of the illness, antibiotics may become necessary.14 If a doctor decides that an antibiotic is needed, he or she will choose the correct antibiotic depending on where the infection is, how serious it is, the age of the person, and whether or not they have any other underlying diseases.15 To minimize the risk of unwanted side-effects associated with some antibiotics, people are advised to use the therapy as advised by their physician.

Prevention

Simple prevention measures can reduce the risk of transmitting both upper and lower tract infections:

  • Frequent hand-washing.
  • Sneezing and coughing into a tissue (or elbow/armpit), not into the hand.
  • Having sufficient good-quality sleep – the amount and quality of sleep a person has can influence their risk of developing a cold. People who sleep for 7 hours or less are three times more likely to get a cold than those who sleep for 8 hours or more.
  • Vitamin D – this vitamin plays a role in maintaining a healthy immune system. Supplements can therefore be recommended, especially in people exposed to cold weather or physical stress.
  • Flu vaccination – the World Health Organization recommends that everyone over ≥6 months of age be vaccinated against flu. Vaccination of healthy adults against influenza may lead to a 30%–50% reduction of respiratory illnesses, fewer visits to the doctor, and less time off work. Vaccination also reduces the number of people admitted to hospital due to acute worsening of existing COPD or congestive heart failure.16

1, 3, 11, 14, 15, 17 http://www.clevelandclinicmeded.com/medicalpubs/diseasemanagement/infectious-disease/upper-respiratory-tract-infection (provided on 28/07/1016)

2 http://www.cdc.gov/features/rhinoviruses  (provided on 29/07/1016)

4 General medical knowledge

5, 7  http://www.emedmd.com/content/respiratory-tract-viruses (provided on 28/07/1016)

6, 12, 13http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Respiratory-tract-infection/Pages/Introduction.aspx (provided on 28/07/1016)

8 http://www.who.int/topics/influenza/en

9, 11 http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs211/en (provided on 28/07/1016)

10http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm (provided on 28/07/1016)

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