Respiratory Infection is by an infectious disease in your respiratory tract. It is usually classified as an upper or a lower respiratory tract infection.

Common colds are usually upper respiratory infections or URI. However, lower respiratory infections or LRTI are more serious infections rather than URI, one of which is pneumonia.


Upper respiratory tract Infection or URTI

Upper respiratory tract infection or URTI affects the airway above the glottis or vocal cords. It also affects the sinuses, pharynx, nose, and larynx.

Typical infections of the upper respiratory tract include:

  • Certain types of influenza
  • Common colds
  • Laryngitis
  • Otitis media
  • Pharyngitis
  • Sinusitis
  • Tonsillitis

Lower respiratory tract infection or LRTI

The lower respiratory tract consists of the bronchial tubes, the bronchioles, trachea (wind pipe), and the lungs. It is a more serious infection that can cause death, as  compared to upper respiratory Infection.

The two most common LRIs are:

Moreover, influenza affects both the upper and lower respiratory tracts, but more dangerous strains such as the highly harmful H5N1 tend to bind to receptors deep in the lungs.


Respiratory infections can manifest as many common symptoms. These include:


The doctor will do the following tests to diagnose a respiratory infection.

These include:

Respiratory Exam. Your doctor will check your breathing. He or she will also use stethoscope to listen to the abnormal sounds of your lungs when you breathe, to check fluid or inflammation. The doctor may peer into your nose and ears, and check your throat. If your doctor believes that the infection is in the lower respiratory tract, additional tests will be done.

X-ray or CT scan. Doctors will suggest these tests to see images of your lungs. They can help check your lung condition and possible infections.

Lung function tests. These are powerful tools to test your lungs. An example of this tool is pulse oximetry, which can check how much oxygen gets into the lungs.

Sputum sample. This test will check the type of virus or bacteria that is causing respiratory infection.


There is no known treatment for various viruses. To manage your signs and symptoms, doctors will prescribe medications and monitor your condition through weekly check ups. Antibiotics will be advised if bacterial infection is suspected.

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