As cold weather arrives, so do respiratory infections. There are two types of respiratory infections: upper respiratory and lower respiratory.
Upper respiratory infections are usually caused by viruses, the Cleveland Clinic reported.
The most common type of upper respiratory infection is the common cold. Colds can cause runny noses or nasal congestion, post-nasal drip and a cough. The throat may also become sore, or the person may develop inflammation in their voice box, so they sound hoarse or develop laryngitis.
URIs involve the nose, the sinuses, the throat and the trachea or windpipe. The symptoms of a URI usually pass in one to two weeks. Antibiotics are not recommended since they are ineffective against viruses.
The flu is also a viral infection, but the symptoms are more severe than those of a cold. See here to learn the differences.
A lower respiratory infection affects the airways, called the bronchi, and deeper areas in the lungs. Lower respiratory infections include bronchitis, bronchiolitis (which affects children and infants), pneumonia and tuberculosis.
Lower respiratory infections can be viral or bacterial. Bacterial infections will need to be treated with antibiotics. Supportive care such as acetaminophen, fluids, rest, humidification of the air, and good nutrition treat viral infections.
One of the difficulties in trying to avoid becoming sick is that the viruses and bacteria may already have infected a person before they show symptoms. When people sneeze or cough, droplets carrying the infection can spread into the air and land on surfaces that we all touch.
We can pass these respiratory droplets to one another by shaking hands and touching surfaces that have become contaminated, such as doorknobs, sink faucets, computer keyboards, phones and TV remotes.
Here are five tips to help you avoid getting sick:
1) The most important practice you can use to avoid a respiratory infection is washing your hands thoroughly.