Often lower respiratory tract infections are considered as only pneumonia, but they include other diseases, such as acute and chronic bronchitis, pleurisy and others. These health conditions are characterized by such symptoms as overall weakness, fatigue, fever, difficulty breathing, etc. Most doctors prescribe antibiotics to their patients who have these infections, but such diseases as acute bronchitis commonly revolve on their own over time.
Chronic and Acute Bronchitis
Bronchitis can be either chronic or acute, and it’s the inflammation of the lining of bronchial tubes that carry the necessary air to and from lungs. Patients who have this lower respiratory tract infection tend to cough up thickened mucus. This disease often develops from other respiratory infections, and its acute type is quite widespread, while the chronic one is a more serious health condition because it’s an ongoing inflammation or irritation of the lining of bronchial tubes. The good news is that acute bronchitis often improved within several days, and it has no lasting negative effects. However, if patients have repeated bouts, they are suspected to have chronic bronchitis that requires close medical attention.
There are certain symptoms that characterize both acute and chronic bronchitis, including:
- Coughing and fatigue;
- Chest discomfort and shortness of breath;
- Slight chills and fever;
- Production of mucus that has white, clear, green and yellow colors.
For patients diagnosed with acute bronchitis, you may have nagging coughing that lasts for a few weeks, even when inflammation is gone. This condition is often caused by harmful viruses, and this means that it can’t be treated by antibiotics. When it comes to chronic bronchitis, it’s all about productive coughing that lasts for a few months with frequent bouts. Smoking is one of the most common causes of this disease in addition to toxic gases and air pollution.
Important Information about Pneumonia
Basically, it’s a lower respiratory tract infection characterized by the inflammation of air sacs in 1 or 2 lungs. They can be filled with fluids and pus, thus, causing coughing, chills, fever and trouble breathing. This medical condition can be caused by different microorganisms, such as fungi, viruses and bacteria, and it’s classified based on the type of germ that causes it and where people got this lower respiratory tract infection. Pneumonia can range in its severity from mild to severe or even life-threatening while minors and seniors are in the risk group.
The symptoms of pneumonia may vary from mild to serious, but everything depends on specific factors, including the type of germs, patients’ age and their overall health. For example, the most common signs include the following:
- Fatigue and cough with phlegm;
- Chest pain when coughing or breathing;
- Sweating, fever, and shaking chills;
- Mental changes and confusion;
- Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting;
- Low body temperature;
- Shortness of breath.
What Patients Should Know about Pleurisy and Empyema
Pleurisy is a medical condition where the pleura (the membrane that consists of layers of tissues lining the inner side of chest cavities and lungs) become inflamed. Sometimes, it’s called pleuritis, and it results in sharp chest pain that may worsen when patients breathe. There are different pre-existing conditions that are responsible for its development, and its effective treatment involves eliminating underlying conditions and pain control.
Some of the most common symptoms experienced by patients with pleurisy include:
- Coughing and fever in some cases;
- Shortness of breath as they’re trying to minimizing breathing in and out;
- Chest pain the often worsens when coughing, sneezing and breathing.
Commonly, pain caused by this disease affects people’s back and shoulders and fluid may build up in small spaces between the layers of tissues, and this condition is called pleural effusion. When there is a lot of fluid, pleuritic pain disappears or reduces as the layers of pleura don’t contact, but it may create a lot of pressure, thus, compressing patients’ lungs to the point when they are completely or partially collapsed. This is what makes their breathing difficult and may lead to coughing.
Sometimes, this extra fluid becomes infected, and this medical condition is called empyema, which is often accompanied by fever. This disease is caused by the collection of fluid and pus from infected tissues in body cavities. The main function of two thin and large layers of tissues called the pleura is separating lungs from the chest wall. Between them, there is some small space filled with a small amount of fluid, and they act by allowing lungs to expand and contract when people breathe.
Pleurisy happens when the pleura are inflamed and irritated, and patients tend to feel pain when breathing. In conclusion there are different factors that may cause this health condition, including:
- Viral infections, like influenza;
- Fungal infections;
- Bacterial infections, such as pneumonia;
- Specific medications;
- Rheumatoid diseases, including arthritis;
- Lung cancer located near a pleural surface.