A respiratory tract infection is an infection of the lungs, airways, sinuses or throat. Viruses, bacteria, mycoplasma (a special kind of bacteria) and fungi cause respiratory infections. Children tend to get respiratory infections because they have not built up resistance to the viruses that cause most of these infections.
Generally, there are two groups of respiratory infections:
Usually, respiratory infections are cured completely if treated early, but serious, complex infections may be life-threatening if proper treatment is not provided.
Complications of a respiratory infection may include:
Some respiratory infections and their complications can be prevented with timely vaccination against influenza virus and pneumococcus.
If your child has a complicated respiratory infection, the doctor may perform one or more of these tests:
Treatment for lung infections depends on how severe the illness is and whether the infection is bacterial, viral or fungal.
Most bacterial infections are treated with a full course of prescribed antibiotics. Viral infections are often treated at home with rest and symptom care since antibiotics are usually ineffective. Fungal infections are treated with antifungal medicines.
Children who are at greater risk for serious complications may be hospitalized. For severe symptoms, treatment may include intravenous (IV) antibiotics and/or oxygen therapy.
For more information about complicated respiratory tract infections, please visit the resources below.
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