Respiratory tract infection

What is a Respiratory Tract Infection?

4 min read

respiratory infection

A respiratory tract infection (RTI) is any infection of the sinuses, throat, airways or lungs. RTIs are usually caused by a virus. The most widespread RTI is the common cold. RTIs are highly contagious and may be spread via indirect and direct contact (such as sharing an infected cup or by touching someone with an infection) and by breathing in germs from contaminated air.

Symptom Summary:

  • Aching muscles

  • Headaches

  • Sneezing

  • Tight chest

  • Breathlessness

  • Phlegmy cough

  • Sore throat

  • Wheezing

  • Cough

  • Quickened breathing

  • Stuffy or runny nose

Prevention Tips

Top up your body’s natural defences and reduce the severity of an RTI with vitamin-rich fruit and vegetables – dark red, green and yellow vegetables are best, as are high in vitamin-C citrus fruits.

Medical Practices

Don’t share
Sharing cups, plates and cutlery with an infected person will share the germs too!

Use tissues
If you sneeze and cough into tissues, the virus-containing droplets from your nose and mouth won’t enter the air where they can infect others (And don’t forget to throw away used tissues. The germs can live on the tissues too!). If you don’t have a tissue available, cough or sneeze into your elbow rather than your hands. It’s just one of many hygiene habits that minimise the risk of spreading germs.

Hygiene Habit

Wash your hands regularly
RTIs are highly contagious and the germs will be less likely to spread if you and your family practise good hand hygiene by washing your hands throughout the day with hygiene soap. Also be sure to clean commonly used surfaces with a powerful disinfectant.


  • Antibiotics can cure coughs and colds.
    Most RTIs, with symptoms including coughs and colds, are caused by viruses. And, sadly, antibiotics cannot treat viruses. The quickest road to recovery is to drink lots of fluids, load up on vegetables and get as much rest as possible.

  • “You should have worn your jacket!”
    A jacket won’t protect you from the common cold! It’s an infection and you don’t catch it from being out in cold weather; you catch it directly or indirectly from an infected person.

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