As you go about your day, relying on your body to stay strong and healthy to do well at work, school, or as a parent, your body is fighting an invisible war against foreign intruders that could compromise your health! Your respiratory system has a comprehensive defense strategy against viruses and bacteria from penetrating its walls and causing an infection. It is easy to take the defense mechanisms our body has in place for granted! However, if your respiratory system’s defense mechanism succumb to a virus, we will be here for you at AFC Urgent Care in Duncan, South Carolina, with timely, compassionate, and expert care!
What is respiratory infection?
A respiratory infection involves a viral or bacterial infection in the respiratory system. Within the respiratory system, there is an upper respiratory tract and a lower respiratory tract. The upper respiratory tract includes the larynx, nasal cavities, pharynx, and sinuses. The upper respiratory tract’s primary function is to provide a passage for air to go to and from the lungs. As for the lower respiratory system, it consists of the alveoli, which makes up the lungs, the bronchi and bronchioles, and the trachea. The function of the lower respiratory tract is to pull in the air from the upper respiratory tract to the lungs while absorbing the oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide.
When there is a viral or bacterial infection in either the lower or the upper respiratory tract, multiple components are hindered from function properly, causing inflammation in the nasal cavity, pharynx, sinuses, tonsils, and other vital parts of the respiratory system. Respiratory infections are quite common and are the number one reason for doctor’s visits in the United States!
How long does a respiratory infection last?
On average, the symptoms of a respiratory infection will last between three and 14 days. However, you can have a respiratory infection and be contagious the day before symptoms begin, and up to five days after you first became infected. When symptoms go beyond 14 days, your doctor may consider a more serious diagnosis, such as bronchitis, pneumonia, strep throat, or sinusitis. The most common symptoms of a respiratory infection include the following:
- Cough (wet if upper respiratory tract infection, dry if lower respiratory tract infection)
- Difficulty swallowing
- Loss of voice
- Nasal congestion and discharge
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
Depending on the severity of the infection, you may also experience diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, foul breath, loss of smell, headache, difficulty breathing, and muscle aches.
What is the most common respiratory infection?
You can probably guess by the name, but the common cold is the most common respiratory infection! Cold season generally lasts from early fall in September until the late winter and early spring months of March and April. Other kinds of respiratory infections include bronchitis, epiglottitis, pharyngitis, sinusitis, and tracheobronchitis, all of which a common cold could eventually develop into.
What causes respiratory infections?
Respiratory infections are usually caused by viruses, and less often by bacteria. Viruses require a living host to survive and attach themselves to cells so that they can reproduce. However, your respiratory tract has many barriers to keep viruses from getting in and causing a respiratory tract infection. Once the virus can get past these barriers, such as hair or mucus inside your nose, and into the mucus membrane of your respiratory tract, an infection ensues. Viruses often adapt in ways that can more easily penetrate the respiratory tract’s defenses, which usually occurs around cold season!
If you have come down with a respiratory infection, we welcome you to come to AFC Urgent Care in Duncan, South Carolina, to get healthy again! You can schedule an appointment through our website or by calling us at (864) 383-0331. We are located at 1667 Main St East in Duncan, South Carolina, and are open Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM, and on weekends from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.