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Dr. Green
Treatment for lower respiratory tract infections often depends on the cause and severity of the infection. Dr. Mansfield, can you tell us about treating lower respiratory infections?

Dr. Mansfield
Sure thing, Dr. Green. The treatment for viral infections affecting the bronchi and bronchioles typically focuses on symptom relief. This usually includes getting plenty of rest, staying hydrated, and using a humidifier or steam to help loosen mucus in the airways. Over-the-counter medications, such as aspirin or acetaminophen, may be taken to reduce fever. In addition, a provider may prescribe cough medicines or other medications to help treat inflamed airways.

Antiviral medications may be prescribed for viral infections in the lungs, or viral pneumonia. With antiviral medication, viral pneumonia typically improves in one to three weeks.

Lower respiratory infections caused by bacteria are treated with antibiotics. The type of antibiotic prescribed may depend on the specific bacteria causing the infection. Most people begin to improve one to three days after starting antibiotic treatment, but it's important to continue taking antibiotics as long as prescribed. Stopping too soon can allow the pneumonia to return.