When Can a Respiratory Infection Become Life Threatening?

When Can a Respiratory Infection Become Life Threatening?

Many people harbor the misconception that they can contract bronchitis or pneumonia only during the winter months. However, this is not exactly true. Bronchitis and pneumonia are very common respiratory infections that an individual can get throughout the year and if left untreated, can actually be fatal. In fact, pneumonia is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. While bronchitis is more common than pneumonia, both can become an acute respiratory infection rather quickly. Here are the signs and symptoms of bronchitis and pneumonia to help you determine which condition you may have.

Bronchitis Causes, Signs and Symptoms

Bronchitis is caused by a viral infection in the lungs. The signs and symptoms can include coughing, with or without mucus, fever, chills, shortness of breath, and pain in the chest when coughing. The mucus may be yellow, green, or even slightly pink, as coughing may damage the alveoli in the lungs. Bronchitis can make it difficult to sleep. While bronchitis is not specifically caused by the common cold, the same virus may cause both conditions at the same time.

Pneumonia Causes, Signs and Symptoms

Pneumonia is caused by bacterial infections that also affect the lungs. However, it’s more severe and will require antibiotics, as well as other medications. The symptoms are more severe than in most cases of bronchitis, including nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, extreme fatigue, chest pain when coughing or breathing deeply, and a noticeably faster heartbeat. Approximately 60,000 people die of pneumonia each year. It’s imperative that you seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Why Are Respiratory Infections So Common?

Smoking is one of the main culprits, but far from the only one. Pollution, exposure to chemicals, and resistance to many different antibiotics are also responsible. Once the lungs are damaged from this type of infection, it becomes much easier to “catch” it again. However, since many people do not finish all of their antibiotics, it’s also becoming more difficult to find medicines that will actually kill the bacteria. If you are prescribed medication for bronchitis, pneumonia, or any other medical condition, it’s important to take it as directed.

In Closing

While you may not want to go to the emergency room for treatment for an acute respiratory infection, it is important that you seek care somewhere. Urgent care facilities are designed to assist people who cannot see a doctor during regular business hours or for those that do not have a family physician. The hours are usually extended and it’s much less expensive that a traditional emergency room. One thing is certain – don’t wait to see a medical professional. Your health, and possibly your life, is on the line.

Resource Box

Coughing up yellow or green mucus? Feeling really sick? It’s time to visit Night Owl Urgent Care. You’ll get the treatment you need much faster and for less than a visit to an emergency room!