What are respiratory illnesses?
Although they all present similar physical symptoms, the illnesses that attack the respiratory system have very different characteristics and require specific treatments.
+ Because respiratory illnesses have such similar symptoms, you should see a doctor to diagnose you correctly. On occasions, when the symptoms first appear you can rest and take an over the counter decongestive medication. However, if symptoms continue, you must seek medical advice.
Staying out in the cold very rarely causes respiratory ailments. In general, they are caused by a viral or bacterial infection. The most common respiratory infections are:
- ∎ Common chest cold. Your symptoms include an achy head -especially pains in the ears, nose and throat- sneezing, mucus, cough and sometimes fever.
- ∎ Flu. When you come down with the flu, you have an infection in the upper respiratory system. You can catch the flu from viruses in the atmosphere or direct contact with an infected person. The infection hits you suddenly with notorious symptoms such as a sore throat, head ache, tiredness, achy body, loss of appetite, cough and feverish condition. If your symptoms persist for several days, it's important to visit the doctor.
- ∎ Angina. You have clear symptoms like intense sore throat that's sometimes accompanied by swollen tonsils, headache and fever. It can be caused by bacteria or viruses and rarely by mycotic infection. Other respiratory illnesses:
- ∎ Tonsillitis (inflamed tonsils), laryngitis (inflamed larynx or vocal cords), pharyngitis (inflamed pharynx). All of these infections present similar symptoms: fever, sore throat, headache, cough, phlegm, chest pressure and difficulty swallowing and breathing.
- ∎ Sinusitis (inflamed sinuses). Pain or pressure in some areas of the face (forehead, cheeks or between the eyes), a stuffy nose, fever and thick green or yellow nasal mucus can be a sign of sinusitis.
- ∎ Rhinitis (inflammation of the lining of the nose). The symptoms include sneezing and runny and/or itchy nose.
- ∎ Bronchitis (inflammation of the bronchial tubes). Some of the most common symptoms are cough, wheezing, fever, and soreness in the chest.
- ∎ Pleurisy (inflamed pleura). Generally caused by an infection in the membranes that cover the lungs, but it can also be associated with pneumonia or an infection in another neighboring organ. When you breathe you have sharp pains in the chest and shoulders, which are caused by accumulated liquid in the membranes. Generally, pleurisy is accompanied by a high fever.
- ∎ Pneumonia (infection or inflammation of the lungs). It can be caused by different microorganisms: viruses or bacteria, (but it can also be caused by corrosive chemicals or toxic gases). The symptoms of pneumonia develop abruptly and may include chest pain, fever, shaking, and chills. It requires immediate medical care.
Coughing is a natural defense mechanism that our bodies use to get rid of what is preventing us from properly breathing (dust, smoke). When you are down with the flu or suffering from a respiratory infection (bronchitis, laryngitis), coughing can be very painful. A cough generally goes away on its own. But if you have a cough for more than two weeks, chest pains, fever or if you are coughing up blood, see a doctor.