Lower respiratory tract infection

Lower respiratory tract infection
Conducting passages.
Classification and external resources
ICD-10 J10-J22, J40-J47

Lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI), while often used as a synonym for pneumonia, can also be applied to other types of infection including lung abscess and acute bronchitis. Symptoms include shortness of breath, weakness, fever, coughing and fatigue. There are a number of infections that can affect the lower respiratory tract. The two most common are bronchitis and pneumonia.[1] Influenza affects both the upper and lower respiratory tracts. Antibiotics are the first line treatment for pneumonia; however, are not indicated in viral infections. Acute bronchitis typically resolves on its own with time. In 2013 LRTIs resulted in 2.7 million deaths down from 3.4 million deaths in 1990.[2] This was 4.8% of all deaths in 2013.[2]


  • Causes 1
    • Bronchitis 1.1
    • Pneumonia 1.2
  • Treatment 2
  • Prevention 3
  • Epidemiology 4
  • Society and culture 5
  • References 6



Bronchitis can be classified as either acute or chronic. Acute bronchitis can be defined as acute bacterial or viral infection of the larger airways in healthy patients with no history of recurrent disease.[1] It affects over 40 adults per 1000 each year and consists of transient inflammation of the major bronchi and trachea.[3] Most often it is caused by viral infection and hence antibiotic therapy is not indicated in immunocompetent individuals.[4][5] There are no effective therapies for viral bronchitis.[5][6] Treatment of acute bronchitis with antibiotics is common but controversial as their use has only moderate benefit weighted against potential side effects (nausea and vomiting), increased resistance, and cost of treatment in a self-limiting condition.[3][7] Beta2 agonists are sometimes used to relieve the cough associated with acute bronchitis. In a recent systematic review it was found there was no evidence to support their use.[5]

Acute Exacerbations of Chronic Bronchitis (AECB) are frequently due to non-infective causes along with viral ones. 50% of patients are colonised with Haemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus pneumoniae or Moraxella catarrhalis.[1] Antibiotics have only been shown to be effective if all three of the following symptoms are present: increased dyspnoea, increased sputum volume and purulence. In these cases 500 mg of Amoxycillin orally, every 8 hours for 5 days or 100 mg doxycycline orally for 5 days should be used.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Antibiotic Expert Group. Therapeutic guidelines: Antibiotic. 13th ed. North Melbourne: Therapeutic Guidelines; 2006.
  2. ^ a b GBD 2013 Mortality and Causes of Death, Collaborators (17 December 2014). "Global, regional, and national age-sex specific all-cause and cause-specific mortality for 240 causes of death, 1990-2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013.". Lancet.  
  3. ^ a b BJM Clinical evidence: London, United Kingdom: BMJ, 1999-2007 : Accessed 29/3/7 at : http://0-www.clinicalevidence.com.library.newcastle.edu.au/ceweb/index.jsp.
  4. ^ Therapeutic guidelines : respiratory. 2nd ed: North Melbourne : Therapeutic Guidelines Limited, 2000.
  5. ^ a b c Becker LA, Hom J, Villasis-Keever M, van der Wouden JC; Hom; Villasis-Keever; Van Der Wouden (2011). Becker, Lorne A, ed. "Beta2-agonists for acute bronchitis". Cochrane Database Syst Rev (7): CD001726.  
  6. ^ a b Integrated pharmacology / Clive Page ... [et al.]. 2nd ed: Edinburgh : Mosby, 2002.
  7. ^ Fahey T SJ, Becker L, Glazier R. . Antibiotics for acute bronchitis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2004, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD000245. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD000245.pub2.
  8. ^ a b Bjerre LM, Verheij TJ, Kochen MM; Verheij; Kochen (2009). Bjerre, Lise M, ed. "Antibiotics for community acquired pneumonia in adult outpatients". Cochrane Database Syst Rev (4): CD002109.  
  9. ^ a b Moberley S, Holden J, Tatham DP, Andrews RM; Holden; Tatham; Andrews (2013). Moberley, Sarah, ed. "Vaccines for preventing pneumococcal infection in adults". Cochrane Database Syst Rev 1: CD000422.  
  10. ^ Kabra SK, Lodha R, Pandey RM; Lodha; Pandey (2010). Kabra, Sushil K, ed. "Antibiotics for community-acquired pneumonia in children". Cochrane Database Syst Rev (3): CD004874.  
  11. ^ The Merck manual of diagnosis and therapy. 17th ed / Mark H. Beers and Robert Berkow ed: Whitehouse Station, N.J. : Merck Research Laboratories, 1999.
  12. ^ eTG complete [electronic resource] "?". 
  13. ^ "Mortality and Burden of Disease Estimates for WHO Member States in 2002" (xls). World Health Organization. 2002. 
  14. ^ Lozano, R; Naghavi, M; Foreman, K; Lim, S; Shibuya, K; Aboyans, V; Abraham, J; Adair, T; Aggarwal, R; Ahn, SY; Alvarado, M; Anderson, HR; Anderson, LM; Andrews, KG; Atkinson, C; Baddour, LM; Barker-Collo, S; Bartels, DH; Bell, ML; Benjamin, EJ; Bennett, D; Bhalla, K; Bikbov, B; Bin Abdulhak, A; Birbeck, G; Blyth, F; Bolliger, I; Boufous, S; Bucello, C; et al. (Dec 15, 2012). "Global and regional mortality from 235 causes of death for 20 age groups in 1990 and 2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010". Lancet 380 (9859): 2095–128.  


Lower respiratory tract infections place a considerable strain on the health budget and are generally more serious than upper respiratory infections.

Society and culture

As of 2010 lower respiratory infections caused about 2.8 million deaths down from 3.4 million in 1990.[14]

Disability-adjusted life year for lower respiratory infections per 100,000 inhabitants in 2004.[13]
  no data
  less than 100
  more than 7,000


Vaccination help prevent bronchopneumonia, mostly against influenza viruses, adenoviruses, measles, rubella, streptococcus pneumoniae, haemophilus influenzae, diphtheria, bacillus anthracis, chickenpox, and bordetella pertussis.


Treatment depends on the cause. See the appropriate page above.



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