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Dr. Flemings
Some symptoms of a lower respiratory tract infection depend on which area is affected -- the bronchi, bronchioles, or lungs. But there are a number of symptoms common to all lower respiratory infections. Dr. Mansfield, can you tell us about some of the symptoms of lower respiratory tract infections?

Dr. Mansfield
Definitely, Dr. Flemings. Bronchitis, or inflammation of the bronchi, and pneumonia, or infection of the lungs, can produce many of the same symptoms, including:

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Cough that produces mucus, which may be clear, yellow-green, or rusty in color
  • Fever: A low-grade fever is typical in bronchitis, whereas pneumonia usually causes a high fever and chills, and
  • Shortness of breath, especially during activity: This symptom is usually more severe in pneumonia than bronchitis.

Pneumonia is often associated with other symptoms as well, sometimes depending on what pathogen is causing the infection. These symptoms include:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting, and
  • Diarrhea

An infection of the bronchioles, called bronchiolitis, most commonly affects children under the age of two. It may begin with symptoms similar to a mild upper respiratory tract infection, but within a few days, more serious symptoms can develop. These include:

  • Breathing problems, such as wheezing and shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Bluish skin due to lack of oxygen
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Intercostal retractions, a problem in which the muscles around the ribs sink in as the child tries to breathe in, and
  • Rapid breathing