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