An urgent care physician from House Call Doctor Los Angeles can do a great deal to help you battle unpleasant and sometimes potentially serious infections of the upper and lower respiratory system. However, it’s also good for you to understand something about these types of illnesses.
Which illnesses are caused by respiratory infections?
Respiratory infections cover any infectious disease involving the upper or lower respiratory tract, which starts with the lungs and ends with the nasal cavity.
- Upper respiratory tract infections cover everything above the vocal chords. They range from such inflammatory illness as tonsillitis, laryngitis, strep throat, and sinusitis to the common cold.
- Lower respiratory tract infections start at the windpipe (trachea), and can go as low as the lungs. These illnesses include pneumonia, bronchitis and the flu. Lower respiratory tract infections tend to be more serious and in some cases are potentially deadly. Tuberculosis – referred to as “consumption” during the 19th century because it caused victims to become extremely thin -- was once a very common cause of death. Fortunately it is now both rare and usually treatable.
What are the symptoms of respiratory infections?
Not surprisingly, most symptoms relate to breathing. You’ve almost certainly experienced the congestion of the chest or nose and coughing that can be related to a cold or, in some cases, a flu. More serious infections can be marked by wheezing or shortness of breath. Often there may be a fever, usually a mild one.
When Should I See a Doctor for Respiratory Infections?
If you are experiencing severe symptoms and think you may have one of the more involved respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia, strep throat, or bronchitis or are experiencing weakness or shortness of breath, it is important to see a physician soon. Symptoms that several days without getting better may also call for medical attention.
For a chest or head cold, a doctor visit may only be called for if the condition persists for more than a week or two, or if it is accompanied by a high fever, typically defined as 103 or above for adults. However, if the individual’s temperature runs below 98.6 ordinarily, a somewhat lower temperature may warrant an urgent care visit. For young children in particular, lower temperatures above 100 or 101 may be a concern. Otherwise rest, liquids, and over the counter cold medication such as Robitussin DM for coughs are sufficient.
For ordinary flus, while the standard treatment is the same as for a cold, if you are in the experiencing your first symptoms, such antiviral drugs as Tamiflu can shorten a flu’s duration and may help prevent its spread to loved ones, if they take it. With all flus, it’s important to realize that they are on occasion much more serious than colds, especially if you are older or have a weakened immune system. Even if you are otherwise in good health it’s important to be on the lookout for signs of more significant problems. When in doubt, it never hurts to contact a house call physician for outstanding urgent care.
What are the treatments for respiratory illnesses?
This largely depends on whether the illness is bacterial or viral in origin. Some illnesses, such as strep and pneumonia, are bacterial in origin and can be treated with antibiotics. However viral infections such as the flu or the common cold do not respond to antibiotics. It is never a good idea to treat a strictly viral ailment with an antibiotic. That’s for two important reasons: they are ineffective and, even more important, overprescribing these drugs can lead to potentially deadly antibiotic resistant mutant disease strains, putting everyone at increased risk.
However, it’s important to know that such common conditions as tonsillitis or bronchitis can either be viral or bacterial in nature. Doctors will typically conduct tests to find the nature of a particular case and determine the best course of treatment.
Getting Help for a Respiratory Illness with House Call Doctor Los Angeles
Whether you feel a flu coming on and would like an antiviral treatment, are dealing with a bad sore throat that might be strep, a persistent or chronic cough that might be bronchitis, or have any other health concern, Dr. Michael Farzam and the entire team at House Call Doctor Los Angeles is at your disposal. Wherever you are in the Greater Los Angeles Area, we’ll go where you are.
To get started, please call us at the number above or reach out to us over the Internet through our contact page.