Acute respiratory infection is a contagious infection that may affect your nose, throat, larynx, pharynx or bronchi and interferes with your normal breathing. It may also affect parts of your lower respiratory system like the vocal chords and lungs. Children and older adults with low immune system are at high risk of this infection.

Bacteria and viruses can cause acute respiratory infection.

Bacteria such as:

  • Group C Beta-hemolytic Streptococci
  • Chlamydia Pneumoniae (Chlamydia)
  • Neisseria Gonorrhea (Gonorrhea)
  • Corynebacterium Diptheriae (Diptheria)
  • Group A Beta-hemolytic Steptococci

Viruses such as:

  • Adenovirus
  • Rhinovirus
  • Coxsackie Virus
  • Parainfluenza Virus
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus
  • Human Metapneumovirus

The types of acute respiratory infection can be identified by the parts that are mostly involved.

Types of upper respiratory infection:

  • Common Cold
  • Acute Pharyngitis
  • Acute Ear Infection
  • Sinusitis
  • Epiglottitis

Types of lower respiratory infection:

  • Bronchitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Bronchiolitis
  • Laryngitis

Symptoms of this infection can include:

  • Runny Nose
  • Cough
  • Sore Throat
  • Body Aches
  • Fatigue
  • Congestion, either in the Nasal Sinuses or Lungs
  • Pain During Swallowing
  • Headache

Call your doctor if you experience severe symptoms such as:

  • A Fever Over 103˚ F (39˚ C) and Chills
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of Consciousness


To diagnose an acute respiratory infection, your doctor may check your medical history and do a physical exam. However if the infection is believed to be in the lower respiratory tract, your doctor might perform the following to confirm diagnosis.

  • Lateral Neck– It can be used to diagnose epiglottitis.
  • Chest x-rays- This may be done if your doctor suspects you to have Pneumonia.
  • CT Scan- It helps to diagnose sinusitis.
  • Throat Swab-It determines what kind of bacteria or virus has infected you.
  • Pulse Oximetry (pulse ox) – Checks how much oxygen gets into the lungs.



Doctors may prescribe medications to provide relief and manage your symptoms. As for infection caused by bacteria, antibiotics might be given to you.

Some of the medications may include:

  • Cough Suppressants
  • Expectorants
  • Vitamin C and Zinc
  • Nasal Decongestants
  • Steam Inhalation
  • Analgesics

Gargling with salt is also an effective way in relieving some of the symptoms.



Acute respiratory infection is contagious and the best way to help prevent it from spreading is to practice a hygienic habit. Always wash your hands with soap and water since it is the part that will most likely catch the infection from other people. If you are the one sick, stay at home. If needed to be outside, cover your nose and mouth.

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