The Respiratory Tract is prone to develop infection (viral, bacterial, fungal). It can also be affected by environmental factors such as smoke and pollutants. Our RT may be sensitive to irritants (allergens), resulting in allergic reactions and is also prone to inflammation. Inhalation of a foreign object can cause injury to the RT and may lead to difficulty in breathing.
WHAT ARE THE FUNCTIONS OF THE RESPIRATORY TRACT?
The function that we are all familiar with is breathing, also referred to as respiration. During respiration, gas exchange takes place by which the body is supplied with oxygen, and carbon dioxide is removed from the body in turn.
The respiratory tract also acts as a defence mechanism as the small hairs and mucous that form part of the tract help fight infection.
Air vibrating the vocal cords creates sound (speech). The RT also facilitates the chemical sensation of smelling, and the cough reflex prevents choking.
WHAT ARE THE COMMON CONDITIONS AFFECTING THE URT?
- Common cold
- Rhinitis (blocked nose)
- Sinusitis (blocked sinuses)
- Pharyngitis (sore throat)
- Laryngitis (infection of vocal cords)
- Influenza (flu)
- Inhalation of foreign body
- Ear infection
WHAT ARE THE COMMON CONDITIONS AFFECTING THE LRT?
- Acute bronchitis (inflammation of the mucous membrane in the bronchial tubes, typically causing coughing
- Pneumonia (inflammation of one or both lungs, caused by bacterial or viral infection)
- Bronchopneumonia (combination of above 2)
- Tuberculosis (TB)
Obstructive lung conditions include asthma and lung cancer, whereas chronic bronchitis and emphysema fall within the category of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF URT CONDITIONS?
The most common and well-known symptoms include coughing, sneezing, sore throat, a blocked or runny nose and watery eyes. In some cases, it can even lead to fever and earache.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF LRT CONDITIONS?
In many cases, LRT symptoms are more severe than URT, and could include coughing that usually involves coughing up of mucus or even blood, fever, shortness of breath, excessive sweating, fatigue and unintentional weight loss if it persists over long periods of time.
HOW CAN I PREVENT RT CONDITIONS?
Always practice good hygiene with frequently washing hands. When working with pollutants, toxins or chemicals, always wear a mask. Spray with Silverlab Hand, Face & Mask Sanitiser frequently, and take Silverlab Daily Liquid to boost the immune system.
WHAT CAN YOU TELL FROM A COUGH?
The nature of the cough can provide a lot of insight into the possible causes and mode of treatment required.
- Associated with irritation or tickly throat
- Usually caused by infection of the URT, or an early sign of a LRT infection
- Also occurs in smokers or individuals suffering from asthma
- Often gets worse at night time, after exasperation or in heat
- Associated with a tight chest and difficulty breathing
- Brings up mucus and phlegm
- The coughing is aimed at removing fluid from the LRT
- Usually worse in the mornings
- Common causes include infections and asthma
- Occur in children
- Associated with a “barking” sound
- Usually caused by viral infection
- Also occurs in children
- Associated with frequent coughing fits
- The child can be left breathless after a coughing fit
WHAT SHOULD I TELL MY DOCTOR ABOUT MY COUGH?
If you visit your doctor for a RT condition, remember to tell him/her the following:
- Nature of the cough (wet, dry)
- Is the cough worse in the mornings or worse at night
- Do you cough up any mucous, phlegm or blood
- How long the cough has been present
- Does heat, cold or exercise worsen the cough
- Colour of the sputum
- Medical history and medication that you are on
- Any recent travelling