What's the difference between upper and lower respiratory tract infection?

The term.... "upper respiratory infection" usually refers to the common cold, but generally means any infection that effects the upper part of the respiratory (breathing) system, namely the nose and throat. The lower respiratory tract is made up of the large airways and the lungs. A lower respiratory infection usually means bronchitis or pneumonia, tends to be more severe and to affect breathing much more.

Related Questions

Will an upper respiratory tract infection go away by itself?

Yes. URIs are caused by viruses. We do not have any medication that treats these specific viruses but the body's immune system is very adept at getting rid of them. It usually takes 5-10 days for the infection to be cleared. In the meantime it is OK to take medications or home remedies to help with the symptoms. Read more...

How fast can I make my upper respiratory tract infection go away?

URTI. An upper respiratory infection usually will last 3-7 days if it is not complicated by sinus or middle ear infaction. Drink plenty of fluid such as gatorade to make up for the fluid that you are loosing from the runny nose and citrous juices provide vitamin c. Zinc (available in the form of zinc lozenges) has been shown to shorten urti by one day. Read more...

Does upper respiratory tract infection usually cause many symptoms?

URTI. Upper respiratory infection (urti) usually refer to symptoms of runny or congested nose +/- fever, malaise and aches and pain usually due to a virus such the influenza virus. However, urti may become complicated by sinus infection or middle ear infection, which will produce their own symptoms. Younger children often get middle ear infection in association with urti. Read more...

How can a respiratory tract infection result in respiratory failure?

Worsening. Respiratory infection can become pneumonia, increase in size, and cause much of the lung to be not functional. There is also necrosis of the lung or death of the tissue causing a nonfunctional lung tissue. It can also lead to sepsis which can overwhelm the person and cause multi organ failure. Read more...

How does a respiratory tract infection result in respiratory failure?

Exhaustion. A respiratory tract infection can increase work of breathing due to inflammation of the airways or filling of the airspaces with fluid; this increase in work can go beyond what the patient can sustain, especially if they are older and otherwise sick. Read more...