Lower respiratory infections

About the Disease

A lower respiratory infection is an infection in your airways and lungs. It can be due to:

•    influenza, or the flu
•    pneumonia
•    bronchitis
•    tuberculosis

Viruses usually cause lower respiratory infections. They can also be caused by bacteria. Coughing is the main symptom of a lower respiratory infection. You may also feel breathlessness, wheezing, and a tight feeling in your chest. Untreated lower respiratory infections can lead to breathing failure and death.

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Risk factors for lower respiratory infection include:

•    the flu
•    poor air quality or frequent exposure to lung irritants
•    smoking
•    a weak immune system
•    crowded childcare settings, which mainly affects infants
•    asthma
•    HIV

One of the best preventative measures you can take against lower respiratory infections is to get the flu shot every year. People at high risk of pneumonia can also get a vaccine. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water to avoid transmitted bacteria, especially before touching your face and before eating. Stay at home and rest until you feel better if you have a respiratory infection, as rest improves healing.

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