Breathing is the single most vital function to our bodily health. If you stop breathing for only a few minutes, the oxygen levels in your brain drop and can lead to permanent damage. So, if you are experiencing difficulty breathing, we understand the severity of the situation and we are here to help!
How long does a respiratory infection last?
For an upper respiratory infection, also known as a URI, to occur, a virus enters the body, typically through the mouth or nose. A person may transmit it by coughing or sneezing, or by touch.
Any enclosed place where people gather, be it large or small, such as a classroom, office, or home, can be a high-risk area for the spread of URIs.
Generally, an upper respiratory infection lasts anywhere between 3 – 14 days. In certain cases, URIs can develop into more serious conditions, such as sinus infections or pneumonia.
What is the most common respiratory infection?
The different types of URIs refer to the parts of the upper respiratory tract most involved in the infection. Including the common cold, there are other types of URIs:
- Sinusitis is inflammation of the sinuses. Healthy sinuses are filled with air. However, when they become blocked, they can fill with fluid. This can lead to the growth of germs and cause an infection.
- Epiglottitis is inflammation of the epiglottis, the upper part of your trachea. This protects the airway from foreign particles and pathogens that could get into the lungs. Swelling of the epiglottis is very dangerous, as it can block the flow of air into the trachea.
- Laryngitis is inflammation of the larynx or voice box. When you have laryngitis, your vocal cords become inflamed or irritated. This makes the vocal cords swell, which distorts the sounds produced by air passing over them. As a result, your voice sounds hoarse. In certain cases of laryngitis, your voice can become almost inaudible.
- Bronchitis is inflammation of the bronchial tubes. The left and right bronchial tubes branch off from the trachea and go to the left and right
- Pneumonia is an infection that aggravates the air sacs in one or both of the lungs. The air sacs may fill with fluid or purulent materials, causing cough with phlegm or pus, fever, chills, and difficulty breathing.
- COVID-19 is a newly identified coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and has caused a worldwide pandemic of respiratory illness, called COVID-19. Symptoms include sore throat, difficulty breathing, cough, fever or chills, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, muscle or body aches, new loss of taste or smell, diarrhea, headache, fatigue, nausea or vomiting and congestion or runny nose. COVID-19 can be severe, and some cases have resulted in death.
What is a respiratory infection?
Anyone who has experienced a cold knows about acute respiratory infections (ARIs). An URI is an infectious contagion of your upper respiratory tract. Your upper respiratory tract includes the nose, throat, pharynx, larynx, and bronchi.
Without a doubt, the common cold is the most well-known upper respiratory infection. Other types of URIs include sinusitis, tracheobronchitis, epiglottitis and pharyngitis. Conversely, influenza isn’t a URI because it is a systemic illness.
What causes respiratory infections?
An upper respiratory tract infection is generally caused by the direct invasion of the mucus membrane of the upper airway by a virus or bacteria. In order for the pathogens to invade the mucus membrane of the upper airways, they have to fight through several physical and immunologic barriers.
The hair in the lining of the nose acts as a physical barrier and can potentially trap the invading pathogens. Furthermore, the wet mucus inside the nasal cavity can engulf the viruses and bacteria that enter the upper airways. There are also small hair-like structures called cilia that line the trachea. These cilia constantly move any foreign invaders up towards the pharynx to be eventually swallowed into the digestive tract and into the stomach.
If you or someone you love is experiencing difficulty breathing and believe it may be the cause of an infection, contact our office today to get in touch with a specialist. To book an appointment, call us or visit us online!