Respiratory Tract Infection Bacterial

What is a Bacterial Respiratory Tract Infection?

A bacterial respiratory tract infection (RTI) is an infection that affects your respiratory system. This includes your nose, throat, lungs, and airways. RTIs are very common, especially in children. The most common bacteria that cause RTIs are Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, and Mycoplasma pneumoniae.

RTIs can spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes, releasing tiny droplets containing bacteria into the air. These droplets can be inhaled by others nearby or can land on surfaces and be picked up by touch.

Symptoms of a Bacterial Respiratory Tract Infection

The symptoms of a bacterial RTI depend on the type of infection and the location of the infection. Common symptoms include:

  • Cough (sometimes with sputum or mucus)
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Fatigue

Diagnosis of a Bacterial Respiratory Tract Infection

Your doctor will diagnose a bacterial RTI based on your symptoms and a physical exam. Other tests may be needed to find out the type of bacteria causing your infection. Tests may include a chest X-ray, sputum culture, or blood test. Your doctor may also perform a throat swab.

Treatment of a Bacterial Respiratory Tract Infection

Treatment of a bacterial RTI depends on the type of infection and may involve antibiotics. Your doctor may also recommend pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to help reduce fever and other symptoms. In some cases, a steroid inhaler may be prescribed to help reduce swelling in the airways.

Prevention of a Bacterial Respiratory Tract Infection

The best way to prevent a bacterial RTI is to practice good hygiene. Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough, and stay away from people who are sick. A yearly flu shot can also help prevent RTIs. If you’re around someone who has a bacterial RTI, your doctor may recommend that you take antibiotics to help prevent it.