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Home / Diseases and Treatment / Upper-Respiratory-Tract-Infection

Upper Respiratory Tract Infection

Upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) typically occur in conjunction with a viral or bacterial attack on the nose, pharynx, larynx, and sinus cavities. The following are some common infections associated with the upper respiratory tract.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus
The respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common virus that infects the lungs and upper respiratory tract. By the time a child is two years old, he or she has more than likely contacted the virus. However, the virus can also infect adults.

Common Cold
The most common of the upper respiratory tract infections, the common cold can be induced by one of 200 viruses. Cold symptoms and treatment vary depending upon the virus.

Sinusitis
Associated with the common cold, sinusitis is caused by a virus that induces inflammation and irritation of the nasal cavities resulting in severe congestion.

Laryngitis
Vocal strain, viral infections, and bacterial infections are all culprits that can induce laryngitis. The infection causes mucous to interfere with the operations of the voice box, thus resulting in temporary hoarseness or loss of voice.

Tonsillitis
Also caused by a virus or bacteria, tonsillitis occurs when the tonsils become infected. Typically, tonsillitis is a common childhood illness. However adults can also suffer from the illness.

These conditions, as well as sore throats are often hard to distinguish one from the another, as there symptoms can be very similar.Colds should be allowed to run their course, but sometimes cold may develop into a chestmed complaint or be associated with ear problems. Homeopathic remedies helps fight the colds, cough, sore throat, croup(Hoarse, metallic-sounding cough).

Asthma

Asthma is a lung disorder that interferes with breathing. Asthma causes a narrowing of the breathing airways, which interferes with the normal movement of air in and out of the lungs. Asthma involves only the bronchial tubes and does not affect the air sacs or the lung tissue. The narrowing that occurs in asthma is caused by three major factors: inflammation, bronchospasm, and hyperreactivity.

Inflammation

The first and most important factor causing narrowing of the bronchial tubes is inflammation. The bronchial tubes become red, irritated, and swollen. This inflammation increases the thickness of the wall of the bronchial tubes and thus results in a smaller passageway for air to flow through. The inflammation occurs in response to an allergen or irritant and results from the action of chemical mediators (histamine, leukotrienes, and others). The inflamed tissues produce an excess amount of "sticky" mucus into the tubes. The mucus can clump together and form "plugs" that can clog the smaller airways. Specialized allergy and inflammation cells (eosinophils and white blood cells), which accumulate at the site, cause tissue damage. These damaged cells are shed into the airways, thereby contributing to the narrowing.

Bronchospasm

The muscles around the bronchial tubes tighten during an asthma attack. This muscle constriction of the airways is called bronchospasm. Bronchospasm causes the airway to narrow further. Chemical mediators and nerves in the bronchial tubes cause the muscles to constrict. Bronchospasm can occur in all humans and can be brought on by inhaling cold or dry air.

Hyperactivity

In patients with asthma, the chronically inflamed and constricted airways become highly sensitive, or reactive, to triggers such as allergens, irritants, and infections. Exposure to these triggers may result in progressively more inflammation and narrowing.

                                                                                                            

It can cause serious, recurring episodes of wheezing and breathlessness, known as asthma attacks. The trouble stems from chronic inflammation in the tubes that carry air to the lungs. While there is no cure, there are highly effective strategies for keeping asthma symptoms at bay.

       

Asthma can appear at any age, but it typically develops during childhood. Those most at risk include people with allergies or a family history of asthma. Having a parent with asthma makes children three to six times more likely to develop the condition. Gender also plays a role. Asthma is more common in boys during childhood but in women during adulthood. Asthma rates have been rising steadily in the U.S. for decades. Some researchers suggest this is the result of better hygiene, which has reduced the number of childhood infections. The theory is that fewer infections may mean a less well-developed immune system, and an increased risk of asthma. Other possible explanations are the increased use of household cleaning sprays, the decreased use of aspirin, and lower levels of vitamin D.

Asthma triggers

Allergens that can trigger an asthma attack include:

  • Mold
  • Dust mites
  • Cockroaches
  • Pollen from trees or flowers
  • Foods such as peanuts, eggs, fish

Irritants

  • respiratory infections (caused by viral "colds," bronchitis, and sinusitis)
  • drugs, such as aspirin, other NSAIDs (nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs), and beta blockers (used to treat blood pressure and other heart conditions)
  • tobacco smoke
  • outdoor factors, such as smog, weather changes, and diesel fumes
  • indoor factors, such as paint, detergents, deodorants, chemicals, and perfumes
  • nighttime
  • GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disorder)
  • exercise, especially under cold dry conditions
  • work-related factors, such as chemicals, dusts, gases, and metals
  • emotional factors, such as laughing, crying, yelling, and distress
  • hormonal factors, such as in premenstrual syndrome

Certain types of jobs can raise your risk of developing asthma as an adult. This includes working in a factory or other environment where workers are routinely exposed to certain chemicals or industrial dusts, for eg:

  • Laboratory workers can get asthma from lab animals: rats, mice, guinea-pigs
  • Spray painters can get asthma from isocyanates
  • Grain handlers can get asthma from grain dust
  • Crab processors can get asthma from crab dust

 Asthma is also more common in people who are overweight or obese. In a review of seven studies, researchers found asthma to be twice as common in obese adults and 38 percent more common in overweight adults, compared to people with a healthy BMI.

Bronchitis

Bronchitis is an acute inflammation of the air passages within the lungs. It occurs when the trachea (windpipe) and the large and small bronchi (airways) within the lungs become inflamed because of infection or irritation from other causes. About 1 in 20 people in North America suffers from chronic bronchitis. Women are more at risk than men.

There are two types of bronchitis.

Acute bronchitis comes on rapidly, usually after a virus has invaded the upper respiratory tract. Sometimes there is a bacterial infection as well. Viruses most likely to trigger acute bronchitis are those responsible for influenza (the flu) or the common cold. The viruses that cause measles and whooping cough can also cause acute bronchitis. In these cases, it is called acute infectious bronchitis. The condition is called acute irritative bronchitis when it is caused by inhaling dust, fumes, or smoke.

Acute bronchitis usually starts out as a dry cough, but within a few hours or days the cough starts to produce thick mucus. This phlegm typically has a yellowish or greenish colour. Wheezing after coughing is usual, and there might be some chest pain as well. Other symptoms are similar to that of a common cold, such as muscle aches, tiredness, and sore throat. A mild fever of about 38.5°C (101°F) may last about 4 days.  

Bronchitis is a respiratory disease in which the mucous
membranes of the bronchial passages in the lungs become inflammed. 

                              

Chronic bronchitis

With chronic bronchitis, the mucus cannot be cleared. Instead of helping to clean the lungs, the mucus blocks your airways. The mucus is thicker and more difficult to cough up. This means it's easier for bacteria to settle in your lower airways and become infected.Chronic bronchitis is usually caused by cigarette smoke. It can also be caused by other things. The main symptoms of chronic bronchitis are a persistent cough and extra mucus in the lungs.

                              ronic bronchitis features regular coughing and spitting up of large amounts of thick mucus. This mucus can partly block the airways, making breathing difficult. The condition is often dismissed as smoker's cough. The coughing is often ignored until the lungs have already been damaged, resulting in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This can lead to a chronic lack of oxygen. Signs such as blue lips and nail beds may be noticed. People with this condition tend to become sedentary. The mucous in the airways creates a good environment for viruses and bacteria to breed. This makes people with chronic bronchitis and COPD more prone to other infections such as pneumonia.

Pneumonia 

Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lungs that is usually caused by infection. Pneumonia can also be caused by inhaling irritants such as vomit, liquids, or chemicals. With pneumonia, the air sacs in the lungs fill with liquid or pus, which interferes with the lungs' ability to transfer oxygen to the blood.

Pneumonia can also affect different parts of the lungs:

  • Lobar pneumonia affects a section (lobe) of the lung.
  • Bronchial pneumonia affects the lungs in patches around the tubes which bring the air into the lungs (these are called bronchi or bronchioles).

The most common causes of pneumonia are infections caused by:

  • bacteria - the most common cause of pneumonia in adults
  • viruses - often responsible for pneumonia in children
  • mycoplasma - organisms that have characteristics of bacteria and viruses that cause milder infections
  • opportunistic organisms - a threat to people with vulnerable immune system. for eg pneumocystis carinii pneumonia in people who have AIDS.

              

 

Symptoms and Complications of Pneumonia

Symptoms of pneumonia can vary depending on the cause of the pneumonia and the general health of the person who has pneumonia.

Pneumonia always causes a cough, which often produces sputum. Red-brown, green, or yellow sputum may be a sign of bacterial infection. Thin, whitish sputum is a possible indicator of mycoplasma.

In bacterial pneumonia, all or part of the lungs slowly fill with liquid in a process called consolidation. Some bacterial lung infections develop over just a few hours. There's usually a high fever, sometimes going up to 40.9°C (105°F).Other possible symptoms include shortness of breath, shivering, chills, headache, delirium, severe bad breath, weakness, chest pain while breathing deeply etc.   usually a high fever, sometimes going up to 40.9°C (105°F). Other possible symptoms include shortness of breath, shivering, chills,headache, delirium, severe bad breath, weakness, chest pain while breathing deeply etc.

Viral pneumonias don't actually cause the lungs to fill with liquid; instead, they inflame the actual lung tissue itself. They are usually milder than bacterial infections. An exception is the influenza virus, which can be very serious. Symptoms of viral pneumonia are dry cough, minimal sputum, headache, muscle pain, weakness and fatigue, moderate fever up to 102°F, chills, shortness of breath, blue lips and nails.

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