Lower Respiratory Tract Infections: An Overview
Commonly known as LRTI, the infections of the lungs and region below the larynx are classified as lower respiratory tract infections. A common misconception about these infections is that they are only pneumonic infections. That is wrong since bronchitis and tuberculosis are also grouped under the umbrella of these infections.
More often than not, lower respiratory tract infections affect the airways or the air sacs, which then leads to difficulty in breathing and certain other symptoms that we talk about in the next section. However, what a patient suffering from LRTI has to be wary of most is the risk of complications. Things can take a very ugly route if a patient is not careful, some of these complications can prove to be life-threatening as well. These include congestive heart failure, respiratory arrest, lung abscesses, and sepsis i.e. blood infection. Even though a majority percentage of lower respiratory tract infections is uncomplicated, the risk of these complications cannot be ruled out at all.
Symptoms of Lower Respiratory Tract Infections
Some of the symptoms that can give a clue about these infections include:
- Dry cough
- Runny nose
- Mild fever
- Laboured breathing
- Chest pain
It is pertinent to mention here that some of these symptoms can become more intense in case of a severe infection.
There are multiple causative factors at play when it comes to lower respiratory tract infections. Primarily, viruses like the Respiratory Syncytial Virus are responsible for these infections. However, certain bacteria like the Streptococcus aureus species can cause these infections as well, as do certain fungi. Sometimes, the reason for a lower respiratory infection isn’t a microorganism. Rather, non-living environmental agents can cause these infections as well. Here, we are talking about agents like tobacco smoke, dust, chemicals, vapours, and certain allergens in the air. As for the risk factors that can increase the susceptibility to lower respiratory infections, these include flu, surgeries, and is under 5 or over 65 years of age. One has to be wary of these risk factors all the time if not falling prey to lower respiratory tract infections is the objective.
Why Are Lower Respiratory Tract Infections So Dangerous?
According to the World Health Organization, lower respiratory tract infections claim more than four million lives on average, every year[i]. While we are talking numbers, let us share some Pakistan-specific numbers as well. Pakistan is one of those countries on the global landscape which has a tough time managing its patient burden. Lower respiratory tract infection patients are no exception to this unfortunate reality, a tragedy that is reflected in the numbers shared by the Center for Disease Control & Prevention. According to CDC, lower respiratory tract infections are ranked third among the top ten causes of death in Pakistan. Almost 8% of the total deaths are because of these infections[ii]. These numbers are quite shocking, and demand a coordinated approach to tackle the curse of lower respiratory tract infections in the country.
Treatment of Lower Respiratory Tract Infections
Management plus medication is the way to treat lower respiratory tract infections. When the lower respiratory infections are mild, you can rely on over-the-counter medicines for cough & fever. Drinking fluids will help your cause greatly as well. But visiting the doctor is the only option when things get out of hand. It is a must to get your doctor on board if you are over 65 years of age, have a weakened immune system, or are guardians of an infant who is suffering from a lower respiratory infection. Treatment costs are normally minimal when it comes to lower respiratory infections.
However, the cost of lower respiratory tract infection treatment can increase dramatically in case of complications. The increased expenditures become a tough ask for the underprivileged patients who often have to rely on healthcare NGOs like Transparent Hands for funding their treatment.
Transparent Hands is the largest technological platform for crowdfunding in the healthcare sector of Pakistan. It offers a complete range of free healthcare services including medical and surgical treatments, medical camps, and telehealth facilities to the underprivileged community of Pakistan. The platform provides visibility to underprivileged patients and builds a personal and trusted bond between patients and donors while ensuring complete transparency. It also sets up free medical camps in the rural areas of Pakistan in which, free medical consultation, free medicines, and free diagnostic tests are provided to deserving patients. Donors from all over the world can use the Transparent Hands crowdfunding web portal and donate through 100% secure payment modes. They could select any patient, fund the treatment, and receive regular feedback and updates until the patient has recovered completely.
Recovery Time from Lower Respiratory Tract Infections
It varies from patient to patient. Because there are many factors at play, one cannot be too certain as far as recovering from lower respiratory tract infections is considered. However, there are certain estimates for key age groups. For example, young adults who are not suffering from any other diseases and don’t develop any complications can recover from such infections within one week. On the other hand, elders have a lot harder challenge at hand. Their recovery time can vary from weeks to months, depending upon factors like age, nature of the infection, the severity of infection, etc.
That would be all from this space for now. Lower respiratory tract infections can impair the quality of life significantly. Hence, adopting all the preventive measures that can help avert this threat is highly recommended. Some of these measures include washing and sanitizing your hands regularly, wearing a face mask when in an environment riddled with allergens, and avoiding places with low air quality indexes. We wish we could have gone on a bit more but the limitations of time and space force us to wrap up this discussion here. On an optimistic note that you learned loads of new stuff about lower respiratory tract infections from this discussion, we bid you farewell for now!