Respiratory Infections Causes and Symptoms


How Do Infections Happen?

Respiratory infections spread through infected droplets. You inhale the infected droplet through an airborne cough or sneeze or touch a contaminated surface before you touch your face or mouth. Once the viral infection reaches your nasal passage, it sets off different immune responses. The viral infection replicates and causes inflammation. When this happens, the blood vessels in your nose dilate and expand, causing congestion. Also, your white blood cells, which help your body fight off infections, inflame. When this happens, more blood flows to certain areas, resulting in redness or tenderness. Your mucus glands are activated, resulting in a runny nose.

The respiratory infection, however, does not stop at your nasal passage. It extends to your airways. Once the infection reaches your airways, they inflame. As a result, this causes airway constriction and breathing problems, and it can worsen pre-existing breathing conditions. Your body’s systemic response to the infected droplet causes observable symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Sore or scratchy throat
  • Feverishness or chilliness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Painful swallow

When Do Infections Happen?

Respiratory infections tend to follow a seasonal pattern. Most viral infections tend to occur during the colder winter months. They taper off around the springtime and decline by the summer months. On the other hand, influenza viruses occur year-round, but they reach their peak infection during the fall.