The respiratory system is so diverse – and includes the sinuses, throat, mouth, and throat – respiratory problems encompass a variety of chronic and acute illnesses. The lower bronchial tubes and lungs are also part of the respiratory system.
Some of these conditions are non-life threatening and only promote occasional distress.
Breathing trouble due to allergies or the common cold would fall into this area whereas respiratory diseases like bacterial pneumonia and lung cancer are serious conditions requiring immediate medical attention.
Upper Respiratory Infection Caused by a Virus
Viral infections like the common cold and the flu are the most common cause of an upper respiratory infection. Symptoms that you might be suffering from an upper respiratory infection include: runny nose, sore throat, laryngitis, facial pain, coughing, and a fever.
The common cold usually causes a mild to moderate upper respiratory infection in patients that clears up on its own. Symptoms usually a cough, nasal congestion, sore throat, and a slight fever.
Influenza (the flu) is another kind of viral infection that might be more serious than the common cold but, like the common cold, can clear up on its own if no unusual symptoms are present. Typically, the flu is accompanied by cold symptoms and potentially headaches, muscle aches, fatigue, and a more severe cough.
The important thing to bear in mind with the cold and the flu is that each is a viral infection. That means that antibiotics aren’t an appropriate treatment; antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections.
Allergies: A Chronic Respiratory Issue Worldwide
Nasal allergies affect around 50 million Americans, and the number could be in the billions when you consider everyone in the world. Allergies occur when your immune system mistakenly labels an allergen as an invader substance. When that happens, you immune system releases histamines and a cascade of effects bring on your allergy symptoms.
Pollen, mold, and certain medications can cause allergy symptoms and mild respiratory distress. The lungs, throat, sinuses, and nose may all be affected and make breathing more difficult. Your doctor may prescribe an anti-histamine to help control your allergy symptoms and improve your ability to breathe.
Bacterial Pneumonia and Lower Respiratory Infection
Bacterial pneumonia is a common type of lung infection that can bring on symptoms of a lower respiratory infection. Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, and chest pain are common symptoms for a lower respiratory infection and not uncommon for sufferers of bacterial pneumonia to experience.
Antibiotics may be recommended as a treatment option for bacterial pneumonia. The severity of your symptoms might depend on whether the bacterial pneumonia has affected one portion of your lung or both lungs in their entirety.
See a doctor right away if you experience emergency symptoms like blood in your mucus, a fever around 103 degrees, extreme difficulty breathing, severe confusion, or skin that’s turning a bluish hue. A weakened immune system or underlying respiratory disease could predispose you to getting bacterial pneumonia.
Asthma and Inflammation of the Airways
A condition characterized by chronic inflammation of the airways, asthma affects millions of Americans. Lung spasms, shortness of breath, and wheezing are not uncommon symptoms for people with asthma to exhibit when having an asthma attack.
Air pollutants or allergies and the kind of infections discussed above can cause or exacerbate asthma symptoms. A severe asthma attack requires attention.
About 25 million Americans suffer from asthma and while there’s not yet a cure, management of symptoms is more effective when asthma is diagnosed and treated early, preferably in childhood.