Top Warning Signs of a Respiratory Infection

Are you coughing, getting headaches, and feeling a little fatigued? These symptoms can be from allergies or a head cold, but they can also indicate a respiratory infection. 

More often than not, respiratory infection symptoms resolve on their own. But sometimes they can be life-threatening. 

Our team of medical experts at SmartClinic Urgent Care in West Covina and Santa Clarita, California, is well-equipped to diagnose and treat all types of respiratory infections. 

Whether you’re at a higher risk for complications or not, treating a respiratory infection sooner is always better.

Types of respiratory infections

A respiratory infection can affect your upper respiratory system, lower respiratory system, or both. Your upper respiratory system runs from your sinuses to your vocal chords, and the lower system runs from your vocal chords to your lungs.

Common upper respiratory infections include the common cold, laryngitis, and tonsillitis. Types of lower respiratory infections are bronchitis and pneumonia.

Causes

While the most common way to contract a respiratory infection is from someone spreading the virus or pathogen to you, other factors can increase your risk, such as:

Some respiratory infections like a cold can develop into acute respiratory infections, such as pneumonia.

Warning signs of a respiratory infection

Respiratory infections affect everyone in different ways. Your symptoms may be minor, while another person may need immediate medical treatment. The common signs of a respiratory infection include:

Certain respiratory infections often mimic a common cold in the beginning. But these symptoms can quickly progress into more severe complications, especially for at-risk people. These are some complications to watch for.

Chest pain and tightness

Chest pain, tightness, and discomfort are all signs of an acute respiratory infection. It can be from bronchitis or from a more serious, life-threatening infection like the flu or pneumonia.

If you develop a cough and start having problems with your chest, visit SmartClinic Urgent Care for a respiratory evaluation.

Difficulty breathing

Respiratory infections can interfere with your breathing, making your breaths rapid, shallow, or leaving you feeling as if you can’t catch your breath. These complications increase your risk of respiratory failure, a condition that results from high levels of carbon dioxide in your blood.

High fever

A warning sign of serious respiratory infection is a fever exceeding 103℉. Fevers over 103℉ can be dangerous and lead to delirium and seizures.

Diagnosing and treating respiratory infections

When you visit SmartClinic Urgent Care for a respiratory exam, your provider discusses your symptoms with you and checks your lungs for any abnormal breathing sounds. Your provider may request an X-ray to check your lungs for fluid or inflammation.

We may also take a swab from your nose, throat, or mouth to determine the cause of your infection.

Treating a respiratory infection depends on the type of infection and cause. Bronchitis, for example, is usually a viral infection, so antibiotics can’t treat it. 

In most cases, treatment for a respiratory infection relies on resting and taking medications like anti-inflammatories, cough medicine, or antivirals. If you have breathing problems, your provider may provide you with an inhaler to help open up your airways.

If you have concerns about or symptoms of a respiratory infection, visit SmartClinic Urgent Care or book your appointment online today.

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