Respiratory tract infections are the infections that affect the parts of the body that are involved in breathing such as the throat, sinuses, airways and lungs. Some types of RTIs are sinusitis, bronchitis, laryngitis, pneumonia, tonsillitis, otitis media, common cold and chest infections.
Although most respiratory tract infections get better without treatment, they are still one of the most common reasons for doctor visits.
The major causes of RTIs are viruses and bacteria. These infections easily spread from one person to another through inhalation of droplets from sneezing, coughing and having contact with people with RTI. Other risk factors are smoking and alcohol consumption.
Symptoms of RTIs are cough, sneezing, sore throat, headaches, muscle aches, breathlessness, high temperature and a general feeling of unwell.
Laboratory diagnosis of RTI is done through Microscopy, Culture and Sensitivity (MCS) test of throat swabs, nasal swabs, blood, pleural fluid and sputum. This reveals the type of organism that is responsible for the infection and the right treatment for it if there is a need for treatment.
To prevent transmission, the mouth must be covered when coughing or sneezing, regular hand washing must be practiced and used tissues should be disposed appropriately. Other preventive measures are avoiding alcohol and smoking. Vaccinations can also be taken to prevent some viral respiratory tract infections.
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