Lower respiratory infection (LRI) refers to an infection that primarily affects the lower respiratory tract, which includes the lungs and associated structures involved in breathing. LRIs are characterized by inflammation and infection of the airways and lung tissue, leading to a range of symptoms and complications.
LRIs can affect different parts of the lower respiratory tract, including the bronchi (bronchitis), bronchioles (bronchiolitis), and alveoli (pneumonia). The infections can be caused by various pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, and fungi, as mentioned earlier.
Common symptoms of lower respiratory infections may include:
- Cough: LRIs often present with a persistent cough that may produce phlegm or mucus. The cough may be dry or accompanied by sputum.
- Shortness of breath: Lower respiratory infections can cause difficulty in breathing, leading to shortness of breath, wheezing, or rapid breathing.
- Chest pain: Some individuals with LRIs may experience chest pain or discomfort, which can range from mild to severe.
- Fever: Infections, particularly bacterial or severe viral infections, can trigger a fever. The presence of a high temperature suggests a more severe infection.
- Fatigue: Lower respiratory infections can cause fatigue and general weakness, often due to the body’s immune response to the infection.
- Respiratory distress: Severe cases of LRI, such as severe pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), can lead to significant breathing difficulties and require urgent medical attention.
It is important to note that the severity and specific symptoms of lower respiratory infections can vary depending on the causative pathogen, the individual’s overall health, and other factors. Prompt diagnosis and appropriate medical treatment are crucial to manage LRIs effectively and prevent potential complications.